Lesson 14: Innovation & Value

Every tender is required to address product or service innovation and value. This is the chance for you to really sell your business and what sets you apart from the competition. The client wants to see how you will bring innovation to the contract and what value-added products or services your business will offer. When developing your innovation or value-added offering, think both short-term and long-term. Some strategies may be quick wins, while some may provide substantial savings over the life of the contract. 

Innovation  

Innovation is essential to any winning tender submission. Innovation allows you to detail how your products and services are ahead of your competitors, and what your company can uniquely offer the client. You have the scope here to explain your creative or more effective products, processes, services, technologies or ideas, and what value this will bring to the client over the contract term.   

Tender Tip

Innovation is not just about using technology; it is about using new ideas and new methods.   

Your innovative ideas might drive value or create cost-efficiencies over the duration of the contract. Whatever results your innovative ideas bring, make sure you spell it out for the client. You’ll also need to demonstrate to the client how your business continually adapts its products and services to work with the changing marketplace, advancements in technology and most importantly, industry best practices.  

Innovative ideas can take many forms. Here are some ideas you may want to include: 

  • The creation of specific online training for the staff of the contract. This idea involves developing a partnership with the client and the development of highly specific information relative to the contract. 
  • Development of a client portal. The involves developing a specific online client portal where all the information about the contract is available for the client to access anywhere and anytime. This information will allow them to make informed business decisions. 
  • Formation of an Expert Advisory Committee. The set-up of this committee provides the client with ‘thought leadership’ surrounding the contract. 
  • Establishment of an Innovation Fund. This fund could be used for the client and their employees as an incentive for employees to think of new business ideas.   

When explaining your innovative ideas to the client, don’t forget to include the benefits and potential savings, if any. For example, you might use robotics in your manufacturing process, which provides a 100% quality guarantee and completes the tasks significantly faster than manual labour. 

Activity

List 5 things your company does better than your competitors. What do you do differently? For example: 

  • Accreditations 
  • Partnerships 
  • New technologies 
  • Sustainability 
  • Efficiency. 

Value-added Services  

Let me ask you: what does real added value look like … and how can you use it to make your business stand out?  

While good service is always expected, bad service is not. Before you even think about value-adding, it’s important to make sure your current level of service is at least as good as your competitors. Otherwise, no amount of value-adding will keep your clients from shopping around. 

Once you’ve established good customer service procedures, you can then set about value-adding to your service. For example, by training your staff to recognise and pay special attention to core customers, they can minimise the amount of time the client spends on hold, which creates a better relationship between your business and its core customers.   

Your Clients Are Long-term Business Partners, Not One-off Customers 

If you think of your clients as long-term business partners rather than one-off customers, you can establish a relationship with them that goes beyond the exchange of goods or services. In turn, this will make you their preferred supplier and you’ll retain their business, despite your competitors’ best efforts to entice them away. 

In order to add value, you need to know your clients intimately; what their business goals are, what their needs are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. By identifying these things, you will also identify the areas where you can offer added value to them. Here are some easy ways to add value:  

  • Added service. It’s obvious that going the extra mile for your core clients can really help cement your relationship with them. For example, taking extra care not to get their orders wrong and, if you do, being quick to rectify the problem at your own expense will earn you lots of brownie points. So will personally dropping off urgently needed supplies, or giving them your mobile number so they can reach you if it’s urgent. Little things like this will make them feel like they are valued clients. 
  • Added expertise. Another form of added value is knowledge. Your client may have a problem that requires specialist knowledge that you or someone in your business could provide. Helping out in unexpected ways will be greatly appreciated by your client, particularly if it helps them become more profitable, or save time. Even if you can’t provide the expertise, referring them to someone you know who can will also be appreciated and remembered. 
  • Added resources. As well as expertise, there may be occasions when core clients need equipment they don’t possess or can’t afford to purchase. This could include a piece of machinery, a vehicle or even the use of your meeting room facilities – all things that cost you nothing to loan but have great value to them. Again, such generosity will be appreciated and remembered. 
  • Added business. You can also add value by doing business with your clients; choosing to use their products or services whenever possible and appropriate. Getting a small discount from one of their competitors is nothing compared to the good will you will earn by purchasing from your clients. Another way to add value is to bring them more business by spotting potential leads and referring potential customers to them.  
  • Added TLC. The best salespeople know the value of their regular clients and that relating to them on a personal level is the best way to retain their business and loyalty. Little things such as a card on their birthday, an invitation to an industry event or even the odd mention of your relationship on social media. 

Activity

List the ways you add value to your clients. For example:  

  • Any additional services/ products  
  • Enhance the overall solution  
  • Provide better value for money 
  • Measurable outcomes – how you do measure them? 
  • Reporting 
  • Customer service or account management 

Now is the perfect time to show the RFT client how your company stands out. A very effective way of doing this is to include details outlining the areas where your company goes above and beyond.