Crafting a winning request for proposal (RFP) response is critical in the highly competitive service provider market, as traditional services are common, offered by multiple carriers and are most often commodity purchases that were historically compared on price. This is especially true in the service provider space as it relates to data and voice transport, hosted services and product resell.
The secret to winning a customer's business usually comes down to the "extras" that your organization can bring to the table as a trusted partner and one-stop shop. These extras are the differentiators between your commodity-priced services and those of your competitors, in that there is a value proposition that can be made even if the customer has requested commodity type services.
This Telecom Essentials tip highlights three key areas I have personally seen differentiate the decision process outside of the cost factors. If you are consistently getting beat on a cost basis for the RFPs you are responding to, and your organization has driven the cost as low as possible, you really only have two choices. You can reduce costs to a level that can severely impact your business model, or offer additional value propositions that will encourage the customer to look at your services as more than a commodity-based service compared on cost alone.
Winning business beyond commodity pricing
I have worked as a consultant in the service provider and enterprise space for 15 years and below are three areas that definitely make a difference:
- Highlight the infrastructure backbone availability/survivability and scalability used to transport the services you offer.
- Highlight service level agreement (SLA) offerings (even if not asked) and emphasize your ability to provide uninterrupted service.
- Bundle in architecture/design and integration expertise.
Each of these provides the customer with insight into how you as a provider are much more than just a commodity-based store that competes on price. Each of these is discussed below in further detail.
These three areas represent value propositions that can differentiate one provider from another in the commodity service space. If you don't have the ability to respond in this fashion, you could still win on cost. But more and more, enterprises are looking for their carriers to bring more to the table and aligning your responses to these facts can help you win more than your fair share.
About the author:
Robbie Harrell (CCIE#3873) is the National Practice Lead for Advanced Infrastructure Solutions for AT&T. He has more than 10 years of experience providing strategic, business and technical consulting services. Robbie lives in Atlanta and is a graduate of Clemson University. His background includes positions as a principal architect at International Network Services, Lucent, Frontway and Callisma.