Guerrilla Intelligence The Incumbents Advantage

Your best defense against competitive threats is the excellence of your performance and the strength of your relationships. Your clients know they can count on you. They may expect more from you than they do of a challenger, but usually they will perceive less risk in sticking with the known.

When facing stiff competition, subtly remind clients of the cumulative value they've received from the projects you've handled for them. When clients are immersed in current problems, their memories may fade. A reminder in the form of a brief history of your consultant-client successes can't hurt.

accomplish. A strong network of client contacts will keep you up on internal company developments and arm you to fend off invaders.

► Competing with Low-Priced Contenders

In competitive situations, most clients compare proposals by focusing on the results they would receive from each bidder. Ironically, by the time all the competitors have conducted discovery and the proposal process is complete, most promised results look basically the same. So clients negotiate to get the lowest fees, and price can be the critical factor in securing the engagement.

To land projects, some consulting firms use low-fee strategies as an operating principle, while others may have low-cost structures that permit them to work for lower fees. Still others may reduce their fees to "buy" work, begin new relationships, or build new lines of business that they roll out to other clients for higher fees.

Tb control costs for discretionary consulting services, some clients employ procurement specialists who are seasoned negotiators. Often, they keep low-priced bidders in the competition solely to pressure other bidders to cut their fees. They may have no intention of accepting the low bidder, but want to keep everyone else's feet to the fire.

Instead of reducing fees, suggest alternative project approaches that will result in different levels of price. But don't try to counter low-priced competition by offering additional services at the original price. This reduces your effective rate of return on the project, and clients question why the extra services were not part of the original proposal. If they award you the project, they will continue to wonder

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