How do you know if the client is ready to sign and agreement?
A first sign to look for is when client start sharing important people to involve and milestones in there approval process with you, not to be surprised they can be different than stated in a formal RFP. If informal requests to validate and better understand your proposal are passed through? A proof point if you are close or not is if the client is willing to start building a joint opportunity plan with you.
Opportunity pursuit should be based on a plan however you will have to be flexible and quick in adapting to changes as you will have to be able to respond to client change requests as well as how competition acts.
Options to speed-up negotiations
- Drop the price: Can even be contra productive as it might send a signal across of desperation and/or uncertaninty of what the market price really is. Once price is dropped with condition to sign prior a certain date it will be hard (impossible?) to get back to original price even when date is passed.
- The “puppy store sale” : Offering your client to start working with you at no charge and only pay if they are happy (compare return the puppy). However given complexity of deals it can be hard to clear use cases, expectations and evaluation citeras. Further (specifically in SW businesses) it can be hard to get out of end-less piloting and never get into a charge model based on production conditions.
- Change price model: Reducing client risks and increase yours will manifest you do want the deal however if successful you get a reward which will make you do your outmost to deliver on time and with high quality. Potential risk is that it makes it complicated for the client to assess your bid versus competition and hence drive even higher degree of complexity.
- De-scope and or/suggest staged approach: Staying below clip levels (if known) will help you getting to an agreement quicker. There is always a risk with “reversed engineering” where you might be to optimistic in your reduction of scope which can significantly increase risk levels. If you suggest a phased approach the time for start/stop potentially will eat the cost savings and further you run into a risk that the phase evaluation will stop the project for good.
- Decrease delivery cost: By suggesting a less senior/costly team you can reduce client price. However it can also increase risks for the project.
- Availability: If your client has expressed appreciation to key-resources of your delivery team you can play the card of risk of loosing them if no decision made. Exposing risk for unavailability of resources can be perceived exposing your internal issues rather than addressing the clients issues. But also uncertainty of allocated resources once delivery is started.
- What the contract means to you: If you have a strong relationship exposing your drivers can be successful as clients do understand there are measurment and reward systems in place for managing sales . Risk is though that they might find you are gready and not having there best in interest for rushing the negotiations.
The right option to take is of course unique to your situation, and the list above is not comprehensive.