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How to Quote to the Big Corporates

Hi, Jon again from Small Fish Business Coaching. You’re a trade business and quoting takes a lot of your time and your energy and you would like to do less of them and win more of them.


I talked about 3 types of trade businesses – those who sell to the public, those who sell to the construction industry and those who sell to corporations.

Today I’d like to think about corporations cos they spend a lot of money and are, of course, worth your attention but they are a peculiar beast.

This is like selling to builders and prime contractors except that corporates (as do large contractors) employ people whose job it is to screw you down on price.

They pretend that price is the only important factor but, secretly, they know that, if they stuff up and give work to a shit contractor, they get and trouble and don’t meet their KPIs.

And that means no bonus come review time.

So play the game here too. Don’t just quote. Build relationships with the people who are running the projects and don’t believe very much of what the procurement people tell you.

I’ll tell you a little story. I used to work for Optus – I was IBM’s account manager responsible for about $10m of revenue a year.

The previous account manager responded to 38 RFPs in the year before I started in the role. That means, 38 times, the procurement arseholes asked him to give a price for an amazing, large opportunity.

And 38 times, he lost.

He was quote disappointed.

So I started and, sure enough, along came a request from the boys in procurement. I started quoting ……then I thought…..”Hang On, that’s what Jim did and it didn’t do him much good, did it?”

So I had a rethink. I started asking them who the bid was for. Realised it was an existing customer renewing their contract for some Telstra services and we were just a price check. Never going to win.

So I told them I wouldn’t bid. Unless I knew the name of the customer and the account director and could feel reasonably like I had a chance of winning.

They went mental. Complained to my boss and his boss but I stood my ground. Instead of running myself ragged to provide pricing for deals I couldn’t win, I spent my time finding some deals I could win.

Met some account directors and helped them with their customers. Bid together on some networks we thought we could add value to

I bid on 6 and won 4.

Better statistics, don’t you think?

Now I’m not telling you this just so you’ll think “Nice one Jon, you’re very clever”

This story could play out in your business. If you take all that time you spend on quoting and you spend it on figuring out how to win business instead, you might win more of it.

And, if you work with IBM , I feel your pain.

Remember, the Tradies Toolkit Program will cover quoting but we’ll also look at how to fix up your back office, how to make your whole sales process work better (so you win more), how to charge more without losing work, how to find more business and jobs to bid on, how to manage your boys better and how to keep your finger on the pulse of your business

More information to follow…

Small Fish Business Coaching
Tradies Toolbox


P.S. Book a ten minute call with Jon to talk about quoting in your business.

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About the Author

Jon Dale

Jon likes helping business owners and especially owners of trades businesses. Life can be a bit frustrating when you run a business and a trade business can be even more so. Jon reckons this stuff is fixable and that you can fix it by making some fairly simple changes to the way you do things. In fact, he runs a free monthly webinar to help explain the process further of moving your business from manual to scalable.

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