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     Here's the Jun 2011 issue of Psyche-Selling TM eNewsletter, and as you read through this newsletter, probably another 10 proposals have been tossed into the garbage can by a Procurement Manager.


     As many sales people work night and day to create the "killer" proposal, only to be killed by the buyer who claims that the price is too high, I thought I have to write something on how to improve your chances of winning in a Request for Proposal (RFP) situation.  Especially if you are NOT the lowest-priced option.


     Using concepts that I learnt from Shipley, we look into why price is NOT the reason why you lost the deal. 


     Hence, this month's topics:

  1. Price is NOT the Reason Why You Lost the Deal ; and

  2. The One Question That Instantly Improves Accountability


     This issue's main article is on  "Price is NOT the Reason Why You Lost the Deal", and we seek to understand the priorities of the buyers, and explore ways how we can win the deal.


    In brief:

  • While only 7% of the highest-priced bids are awarded the deal, ONLY 4% of the lowest-priced bids eventually win the deal;

  • 52% of the technically superior bid ended up losing, while 80% of the bids are awarded to the incumbents;

  • To win, you need a sharply customer-focused strategy to address customers' real concerns, and then communicate the right language for the right value proposition via a well-positioned and planned proposal that complies with the customers' criteria.  In Shipley's framework, that's a formulated 96-step process covering the entire strategic business development cycle..  Read on... ...  


    To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here (


    In the meantime, please do help us with our 2011 Talent Management Survey.  If you respond by 30 June 2011, we will be giving you a preliminary report on how you can attract, retain and develop your key talents by mid-July.

Price is NOT the Reason Why You Lost the Deal

by c.j. Ng and Tony Wai


     Just before knocking-off from work, Tommy received a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a project that required him to bid for a project worth US$1-1.5 million.  As the deadline for the project is very tight, Tommy would have to submit his bid within a week.


     Tommy and his boss were very excited about the RFP. It has been a long time since they were given a chance to bid for a deal of this size. Instead of going home after work, Tommy decided to stay back and start working on the RFP immediately. In fact, Tommy spent the next 4 nights working till the wee hours just to make sure his proposal will be perfect for the bid.


     Tommy submitted the proposal a week later, confident that he had proposed a solution that will deliver what the customer needs.  He waited for the next 2 weeks for the good news he's expecting.  At the end of 2 weeks, he decided to call the customer's Procurement Director to find out the news.  Tommy was shocked and disappointed to hear that the project has been awarded to someone else.


     "Your proposal was very good, but your price was just too high", said the Procurement Director.


     A few months later, Tommy got to know other staff working on the project in the customer's company in a networking event.  Tommy casually remarked that he had bid for the project, but was beaten by a cheaper competitor.


     "Oh, we we know about your bid," the project's staff said, "But although your price is higher than the final winner, there were a lot of other losing bids that were a lot cheaper."


    "By the way, did you know who won the bid?  The same guys who also implemented similar projects for us last year, and the year before."


It's Not the Price


     If Tommy's story above sounds familiar to you, then you are probably one of the many others who have worked hard for a Request for Proposal, only to be beaten at the very end by a cheaper competitor.
    Until you can read the decision makers' mind on what their real concerns are, you'll keep thinking about price, understandably.  However, if you really want to win a deal, then some of Shipley's methodology framework may help you on some of the insights, as well as the competitive analysis and price-to-win is part of the strategy.
     While your client may be telling you that price is the reason why you lost the deal, research made by Shipley (a company that helps clients winning US$2 billion worth of bids, including bids in China and Asia) shows that:
  • While only 7% of the highest-priced bids are awarded the deal, ONLY 4% of the lowest-priced bids eventually win the deal;
  • 80% of the bids are awarded to the incumbents, i.e. vendors who have been supplying the client on similar projects, products or services in the past;
  • 52% of the technically superior bid ended up losing;
  • In many cases, the buyer has already made the decision whom to buy from BEFORE the Request for Proposal, and issued RFPs just to formalise the buying process;
  • The bidding criteria listed in the RFP are not all equal. Some criteria have much higher priorities than others, and those criteria may have even much more importance than price
     Many sales people will argue that their customers actually bought from someone else quoting a lower price.  That could be the case in reality.  However, if you were to probe further, you will find out that there will also be a number of bids that are priced even lower than the winner's price.
     Hence, while the winner might have been priced lower than yours, the fact that the customer did NOT award the bid to the lowest-priced bidder shows that price is NOT the determining factor in their buying decision criteria.
     In fact, anyone with a decent purchasing/ procurement background will know that price is only but a factor in the Total Cost of Purchasing/ Ownership.  Other factors that will impact overall costs in purchasing include:
  • Increases in productivity;
  • Decreases in downtime;
  • Improvements in profitability;
  • Capturing market opportunities;
  • Safety;
  • Environmental issues, etc.
     Some of these factors are more important than others in different bids for different purposes.  The question is, do you know what are the top priorities of what your customer wants, BEFORE you prepare your proposal?

The Early Bird Catches the Worm


     As Sun Tzu puts it, "Know yourself and know your adversary, a hundred battles fought and not be imperiled in any"  (知己知彼,百战不贻).


     If you don't know the customer before they send you the RFP, it might be a better idea NOT to bid at all.  You might as well spend that time prospecting for new customers, or developing better relationships with old ones.


     Your chances of winning will be much higher if you are already a supplier for the customer, even if it's for much smaller deals.


     Leveraging your knowledge of the customer, you will get to know:

  • What could be some emerging large projects that the customer will be issuing an RFP soon;

  • What will be the priorities for the different criteria in the RFP.  If you are not able to fulfil all the customers' buying criteria, at least you can meet the requirements of the MOST critical ones;

  • Who will be the key influencers in the buying decision, what are their levels of influences and what buying criteria will each influencer be most concerned about?


     You might wonder why would your customer share so much information about themselves.  Well, some information are only shared with the people your customers trust.  Here's an outline of the R4 model that we can use to build trust, credibility and respect with your customers:

  • Reliability.  Whether you, as the seller, can deliver your promises in ALL aspects  ranging from product quality, delivery lead times, maintenance schedules etc.

  • Relationship.  Apart from cultivating guanxi with some key decision makers, seek to build relationship with everyone that has an influence over whether this customer should or should not buy from you.  Seek to build an "emotional bank" by helping them out in their work.

  • Responsiveness.  Not just how fast or how frequent you respond to customers' requests, but also your responsiveness to the customers' needs and concerns, even before they mentioned those needs and concerns.

  • Resourcefulness.  Can you coordinate the internal and external resources required to give customers the integrated solution they need?


     In fact, your ideal situation will be to exert influence on the customer so much so that the customer "stole" your ideas and pasted them onto their RFPs!


Formatting Your Proposal


     Even equipped with in-depth tacit knowledge of the customer's buying criteria, it still does not guarantee success.


     With the amount of proposals the Procurement Director receive each day, proposals that are poorly organised can be tossed out immediately. Conversely, proposals that are well-organised will stand better chances.

     Well-organised proposals include the following:

  • Executive summary, highlighting the key points of discussions and tentative agreements;

  • Table of contents;

  • Index page;

  • Appropriate usage of pictures, charts and other diagrams

  • Compliance to the buying criteria

  • Well-illustrated logic on how you meet the buying criteria

In other words, well-organised proposals make it easy for the Procurement Director to read and reference through, and for her to understand and appreciate your distinct benefits and values.


     As such, if your customer chose to buy from someone else instead of you, there are a lot more factors than simply "price".  The winning approach would encompass a sharply customer-focused strategy, employing proven processes and tools to address customers' real concerns, and knowing how your solution fits into customer's expectation with the right specification.  You have to take into consideration of market competition, and then communicate the right language for the right value proposition via a well-positioned and planned proposal that complies with the customers' criteria.  In Shipley's framework, that's a formulated 96-step process covering the entire strategic business development cycle.

     Need help in winning more profitable bids?  Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour: 20 Jul 2011
Price is NOT the Reason Why You Lost the Deal


     Join International leadership, innovation and sales force effectiveness consultant c.j. Ng and CEO of Shipley China in this Power Breakfast Hour in Shanghai where you will find out:

  • Why only 7% of the highest-priced bids are awarded the deal, ONLY 4% of the lowest-priced bids eventually win the deal;

  • Why 52% of the technically superior bid ended up losing, while 80% of the bids are awarded to the incumbents; and

  • How to create a sharply customer-focused strategy to address customers' real concerns, and then communicate the right language for the right value proposition via a well-positioned and planned proposal that complies with the customers' criteria.


VENUE:  Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 •  番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Tuesday, 19 Jul 2011

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 



     To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to 


     You can also download our Power Breakfast Hour video on Selling to Muggles: How to Make the Sale when Buyers Have No Idea What You're Talkin' About.


    Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Need a Keynote Speaker for your Annual Conference?


     Whether you are holding a conference for your regional staff, resellers or even customers, we have the right speaker who can help you deliver the spirit of your conference, and effect positive changes to meet your goals.


     The topics our speakers can speak on include:


    • Achieving Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Talent Retention by Boosting Your Employee Engagement

    • Using the Six Thinking Hats to Win More Sales and Get More Customers

    • Why Some Sales People Succeed While Others Fail?;

    • How to Lure Away Your Competitors' Key Accounts, and Make Them Buy from You Instead?;

    • Improving Sales Productivity by Motivating the Sales Force;

    • Sun Tzu and the Art of Strategic Decision Making;

    • The End of Guanxi as We Know It!; and many more!


     Simply e-mail your requests to or call +86-21-6219 0021 for enquiries.  Sample video and audio recordings available upon requests.


Practical Tips for Managers:

The One Question That Instantly Improves Accountability


By By Mark Murphy,

CEO of Leadership IQ


There’s one area that we all participate in where accountability raises its head, and that is meetings.


In a typical meeting, people share several ideas, goals and plans, but we’re all too familiar with what often happens next: nothing.


Days, even weeks go by, and no one brings their concepts to life. Virtually no progress is made toward achieving the meeting’s goals. Everyone gets frustrated – you, the project leader, most of all – and people begin to point fingers. When you follow up to ask everyone for an update, you start to hear an array of responses that noticeably fit into the 5 stages of accountability (denial, blame, excuses, anxiety, accountability). You hear statements of denial like, “Oh, I didn’t know this was a high priority.” And blame like, “I can’t do my analysis until I have the numbers from accounting; have you talked to them?” And excuses like, “I couldn’t get it done because IT was fixing my computer last week.” And anxiety like, “I thought this would be easy to finish, but turns out there’s a lot more to it than I thought. If you still need this, I’ll need a few more days to figure it out.”


If any of this sounds familiar to you, your organization could suffer from a problem with accountability.



There are several ways to improve the accountability of your organization, and one of the quickest and easiest comes in the form of a simple two-part question that you should ask at the end of every meeting:


“What are you personally going to achieve and by when?”


Machiavelli was spot-on: interests are what matter to and motivate people.  When buying a car, some people care about (that is, have an interest in) mileage because they worry about the price of gas, others are more concerned about the environment or about the security and source of oil supplies.  The self-interest about costs is not inherently less or more reasonable than an interest in the environment or, for that matter, the lack of concern (or lower priority) expressed by someone buying a gas guzzler.


This question seems simple enough, and you’re probably already familiar with its use in the workplace. But the key to this question comes not only from its wording, but also from when and where you ask it. (Everyone thinks they’re already asking this question, but unless it’s done just right, it won’t be effective).


To dramatically improve this question’s effectiveness, follow these tips:

  • Ask the question at the end of every meeting to summarize the actions required to move forward.

  • Make sure every attendee in the meeting answers the question in front of the group.  It doesn’t work if all the other group members don’t hear the answers.

  • Make sure a specific date is given to the “by when?” part of your question (“Next week” and “next month” are unacceptable.)

  • As each person answers their question, make note of their goals and deadlines. Within an hour after the meeting ends, send an email to the group with a summary of everyone’s goals and deadlines. (For maximum effect, draw a three column grid on a white board. Along the vertical axis, write everyone’s names. Along the horizontal axis, write “Goals” and “Deadlines.” As people answer their questions, add their answers to the grid while everyone watches.)

  • Finally, after everyone has answered their questions, and you’ve taken note of each of their responses, end the meeting by saying, “Ok, everyone. I’ll be sending around the summary of what everyone has agreed to here (pointing at the white board). If anything comes up between now and your deadline that might push back the completion of your task, be certain to let me know, and I will update the entire group as needed.”


Here’s why each of these tips is important:


First, research shows that when people make promises not just to one person (even if that person is their boss) but to an entire group of people including their peers, they are more likely to keep that promise. This is easily applied to the workplace. In other words, if you can make your employees accountable not only to you, their boss, but also their peers, they are more likely to achieve their goals.

Second, if everyone shares their goals and deadlines in front of the group, the group achieves 100% transparency. When everyone is on the same page like this – not just conceptually but also with regard to specific actions and deadlines – you greatly reduce the chance that denial or blame will come into play in the future.

Third, when you can visualize accountability, like putting everything on the whiteboard, you’re accessing the powerful “pictorial superiority effect.” This is the neurological finding that concepts are much more likely to be remembered if presented to our eyes rather than our ears. To what extent do we remember more? Well, when we only hear information, our total recall is about 10% when tested 72 hours later. But, when we see visuals, that number shoots up to 65%. It’s a pretty substantial difference.

Finally, once everyone knows it’s their own responsibility to alert you if something comes up that might affect their deadline (such as an unforeseen circumstance around the office or a greater scope than originally thought), you will dramatically reduce the likelihood that excuses or anxieties will affect the completion of their tasks. Instead, if any excuses or anxieties do arise, you will learn about them in real time, which allows you to manage them individually so no single task will delay the larger goal.

If you follow these steps carefully, more often than not you will bypass the first four stages of accountability (denial, blame, excuses, anxiety), and your employees will be left with only one choice: complete accountability.


Find out how to "Put More Accountability in Your Culture." Learn more about the our live webinar that will show you how to get your employees to act like owners, fully accountable and passionately driving huge results without ever making excuses.


If you would like to get more and better ideas how to improve accountability, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha.  All information shall be kept in confidence.



Sales... ....the lifeblood of a company, a matter of "life and death", survival or extinction.  Indeed, something that needs to be studied, applied and re-modified consistently.


Yet today,

  • many companies still don't have a coherent approach as to how they can generate more sales and achieve better margins;

  • many sales people are still lying to their customers so that they can meet their targets at the end of the month;

  • many customers are still waiting ethical and professional sales people to help them find out their real needs, and provide solutions that work


Psyche-Selling TM is set up so that companies and sales people can make healthy profits and STILL provide genuine solutions to customers.


Psyche-Selling TM would like to create an environment where customers can trust sales people to give them what they want, and NOT be pushed with all kinds of products and services.  In return, customers will become loyal fans of these ethical and professional sales people, and repay them many fold for the long-term.


Psyche-Selling TM will not rest, until the above is achieved.  Not just in China. Not just in Asia.  But everywhere where buying and selling takes place.


Psyche-Selling TM is a wholly-owned brand of Directions Management Consulting Pte Ltd that specialises in the field of improving sales performance by enhancing the performance of the entire sales team.  Apart from the regular "selling skills training", Psyche-Selling ng TM conducts pre- and post-training analysis, interviews, monitoring and reviews, working closely with managers and even senior management, to deliver real improvements in sales leadership and performance.


Hence, Psyche-Selling TM would like to be known as the preferred choice of outstanding and remarkable clients, and pride ourselves as such.  We will also be continuing to assist our clients achieve greater heights in 2009 and beyond.


Enquiries and suggestions, pls. e-mail or visit



Mailing Address: Shui Cheng Nan Road 51 Lane No. 9 Suite 202 Shanghai 201103 China