IT Europa puts questions to the author here
Nigel Thacker, who ran Serco's Best Practice Centre, has produced a timely book called Winning Your Rebid
. Shorter time frames, uncertainties because of economics and new IT models are all adding to the pressures on those trying to keep deals alive at the end of contracts.
Historically, the average retention – ie continuing a contract- is 60-70%, but it should be higher, given that the incumbent is in a strong position. A lot of this is down to the psychology of sales – many sales people want to be hunters, kicking down doors and going into new areas, but while this is attractive to them, it is expensive, risky and has to be continuously successful.
A planned, approach, more like that of the farmer, is less expensive, and can be much more profitable. And while Nigel's book is full of checklists and things to be done at certain times, it is also clear that this whole process needs to be run from the top by someone who understands why certain people are good at certain aspects.
For example, should the rebid be run by the contract people who are engaged in the job currently or the sales or bidding sides, or some combination of them all? In a fast changing IT environment, there is always the chance that an outsider with new thinking could come in with new ideas – cloud or new apps for example, On the other hand you don't want to stray too far from the existing, or you run the risk of losing any incumbent advantage. And how much information do you allow your competitors? Nigel says you should reveal all the issues, in case they fail to price something in a snatch the deal.
A contract is not like a running business; the deal actually freezes terms and situations, which may have changed by the time the rebid comes up. And in the new economic situation, the CEO rather than the CIO may have the final say, which may make the whole conversation very different.
The book is usefully divided into two parts, the first on what should happen during the contract, the second on the rebid process itself. And questions of pricing are rightly only a small part of the thinking since this is often a strategic issue for the bidder rather than a tactic to win, although these days companies will buy business just to keep a competitor out or to stay afloat themselves.
Some of the big ideas he brings in from experience are to avoid focusing too much on the previous deal – a mistake in his view; treat the renegotiation as a greenfield and rule nothing out. Win Themes – ideas that are reflected throughout the rebid to reinforce the incumbent is not something we have experience of. This is a dry subject, suited to the management style that wins through in the long term through patient application of expertise, and the book's style is very methodical.
I'd be surprised if anyone in IT supply did not come out of reading this book with some new ideas and plans for changes which justify its price of £65.00. I would have liked to have seen more examples and real-world stories from Nigel's long experience in the field, to try to reinforce some of the checklists and messages. Final advice – don't wait until you are rebidding before reading the book; the first half is all about what you should be doing now to retain the deal.
Available on Amazon here