The role of unstated needs in building differentiation

When trying to win work, the desire of many firms to focus on capability sometimes ironically contributes to them not being successful. Firms have tended to think and position themselves from the perspective of what they do focusing typically on capability and capacity aspects, such as technical expertise, experience, size, professionalism, similar customers worked with.
Customers on the other hand, are coming at the process from a very different perspective. They are looking at who they can put their trust in to make the most reliable purchase that offers the highest value/lowest risk. For them the key considerations are centred on aspects that are unlikely to feature in any project specification, such as certainty, consideration, communication, problem solving.

In the rush to impress through the (stated) technical requirements of the project in hand, sellers can overlook the importance and powerful role of the (unstated) personal requirements of the individual or organisation commissioning the work.

The task for all organisations looking to win work, and especially those looking to win work at sensible margins mean they miss the opportunity to really excel and differentiate themselves in the areas of the relationship that are of most importance to the prospect. This is because they have the greatest impact on the desirability of (working and putting trust in) a provider that operates beyond the practical elements of just being able to do the job.

When prospects are faced with very similar looking firms, with very similar capabilities, the instinct for buyers is to look to separate the best from the rest and build preference on those that understand the person as well as the process. Suppliers have more chance to differentiate themselves and build value with proposals that relate and provide the closest fit to both the stated practical and unstated outcome needs.

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