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Sales Eye -The moment of truth has come (Jan 31st, 2005)



The moment of truth has come

31 January 2005


Your clients are sitting in their conference room-the president, purchasing manager and marketing manager.

The three grand poobah's are about to decide on a significant tender offer that has recently taken place. Five companies were invited to take part in the tender, under the recommendation of your contact, the specialist in marketing. Unbeknownst to you, the specialist-the one who thinks your company is simply the best-is not even in the room.


The bosses glance through the various materials- photos, samples, catalogs-as well as attractively packaged presentations, elegantly bound and perfectly formulated. They seem impressed.


Making your offer

And then they come to your offer. It is a single piece of paper-an e-mail printout:


Dear Pani Magda:


Thank you for the opportunity to take part in this auction. We recommend the Fruit of the Loom polo shirts


at the following price:

10,000 pieces-zł.25

25,000 pieces-zł.23


If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to call me.





The bosses stop for a second, shake their heads, and move on. Your one moment of truth lasted about seven seconds. You blew it and you won't be getting the order. Later, your boss will ask you, "why did we lose?" and you will explain, "our prices were too high" or that perhaps someone was offered a bribe.


Tender tussles

Tenders or auctions, otherwise known as przetargi, are all the rage in Poland, and not only public auctions for large government contracts. More and more private companies are clamping down on costs, and one of their favorite weapons is the tender.


If you're like most firms, your company is losing more than its fair share of large orders. In our company, we've just begun the process of reviewing how our sales reps handle inquiries from clients-everything from small, everyday requests to big one-shot orders and huge, formal tenders.


To be honest, what we found was frightening. Although our company had long ago prepared professional materials for our sales reps to use, many of them forgot, lost or ignored the guidelines that we so painstakingly put in place.


The order of the day

So what can you do to increase your chances of winning those big orders and tenders?


• Gather full information up front: When the request comes, talk to the client and visit them if you can. Ask lots of smart questions and understand their needs.


• Try to understand the decision-making process: Who, when, where. Is your contact person the decision maker? When is the tender deadline? When is the order delivery deadline?


• Prepare professional materials: Prepare templates, basic information about your company and it's reputation, your products and their quality. You should have this in a format that if you had a gun to your head, you could prepare a professional offer within minutes. If you have multiple products that solve the clients' needs, be sure to rank them, and include your personal recommendation.


• Formally train your sales reps on how to win big orders: Organize this short two-to three-hour seminar for your sales reps.


• Engage sales management in every large request: Until this system is working fluently in your company, get management heavily engaged in the process. If the company has a strong view on how these proposals should look, make sure the sales management all know about it, so they can coach the sales team.


• Create a scorecard: Track all large requests-attempted, won, lost. Do a weekly report on every single big request that comes to the company. Then management can start to review how they are doing, which reps are winning and why, and, if they are still losing, what they can do to remedy the situation.


There's no better way to make your budget numbers than to score a few big hits. Such offers can be a lot of work, but if you are going to stop losing and start winning more of these, you'll need to get your internal systems fully worked out.



From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"