“Your bid is not competitive?”

one dollar bill

If you’re in the business world, you’ve been turned down by a customer claiming that your bid just isn’t “competitive.”  What exactly does that mean?

Does it mean:

They can buy it cheaper elsewhere?

Everyone else is cheaper?

That our competitor has better quality than us?

That they deliver faster than us?

That they’re more innovative?

Or, is the criteria something internal to them?

Are they measured by how much money they can save their organization up front, thus they need to find the “best” deal?

Are they measured by total cost – upfront AND cost of quality — and the solution they are choosing is the most valuable?

Or, do they just want a discount because negotiation is a game, and if they don’t get a discount, it most likely means they are losers in the deal?

“You are not competitive” is often a cop-out for one of the above, or something else altogether. It can potentially mean many things, and it is simply not helpful.

What’s helpful are genuine conversations. Information that leads to a better understanding of what the customer is looking for, and how we can get better.

(And we can always get better.)

And one more thing…

I would never use Kohl’s as a “market comparison” to Nordstrom prices, nor would I be allowed to comp home values from an apartment on Lake Shore Drive in hopes of increasing the value of my suburban home.

Why, then, is this acceptable in the B2B world?

So let’s all try to avoid this phrase.  It doesn’t do any of us any good.  Instead, let’s be honest about what we really want.