Our Sales processes were written in a time when we worked in analogue - the world has moved to Digital, does this mean all of valuable Sales processes are redundant?

They are, unless they are modernised!

I have retuned all the valuable Sales processes that I’ve learned and used in my career so they now harmonise with Digital Markets and Social Media.

Let's look at Capture Planning.

Capture Planning is an essential process, I can directly attribute big project wins to this throughout my career. It’s the process of identifying the opportunity, assessing the commercial environment and designing a win strategy related to one specific project or business opportunity. You could say, it's the Project Plan as to how we will win a specific piece of work, how we position ourselves to convince the client the we are the preferred solution, before the RFI even comes to market.

We use this for Complex Sales. Those opportunities that have large teams involved in the purchase and the sale. It could be a formal buying process, a high monetary value opportunity or high risk. This is very different from Simple sales transactions, we use Capture Planning to curate and programme large volume inputs and outputs to the Sales process.

Successful Capture Planning relies on solid, timely insight and intelligence from the Market. 

For example: If we know that a specific business opportunity is coming up for tender in 6 months’ time and our management team decides it is worth spending the time energy and money to win it, we have 6 months of advance time and opportunity to make significant impact on the process.

The research tells us that the modern buying team are nearly 60% through their decision making before they even come to market and engage with suppliers. Capture Planning ensures we are front of the queue and front of mind in that decision-making process.

When this is done well, it can influence the tender process in a bidder’s favour.

So, how do we get any value from a useful process such as Capture Planning, which is essentially an analogue process, when our territory has moved to Digital and is now accessed through Social Media?  The good news is, it’s very well suited to conversion. The overall framework doesn’t change but the content and activity does.

Lets walk through how to run a Capture Plan for an opportunity with a client you don’t know. First off, we move this from analogue process to digital by running it on a collaboration hub such as Asana, Slack or Basecamp.

The traditional phases of Capture Planning, re-tuned:

Qualification Phase

We set our timeline and milestones as before.

We set out Capture team and Capture Manager as before.

We start to build an RFP influencing suite – Using Social Media to analyse incumbent and gather information. Members of the Capture team assigned to research all Social Media platforms for relevant information.

Capture Phase

How do we identify the client’s selection team for this opportunity when we have no contacts? We do it on Social Media, we make connections.

We used to talk about a ‘Contact plan’ which maps out all the individuals that need to be matched with those we know are decision makers or influencers in the upcoming opportunity process. Emails and calling will not work now, we do this on Social, it’s now the ‘Connect plan’. 

We list all the relevant people we believe are key to the opportunity and make sure we connect with them Socially. We pay special attention to connecting relevant person to relevant person: “Is our CEO connected with their CEO” etc.

Listing what we believe are the Customers Most Important Requirements – We gain this information through our Social relationships.

Solution development, Win/lose factors remain the same.

Competitor analysis

Who do we know is going after this opportunity? Capture Committee members assigned to use Social Media to assess competitors and feed back into the plan. Where they are strong, where are they weaker? What is the real story with that new tech? What is the word from their people – who has moved, what are they saying? This is what your clients do when looking at your organisation.

Supplier assessment

Who can do what for us and at what price to help us win this work? The Procurement team members of the Capture Committee are assigned to perform a Social Sweep of the Supply Chain. Make relevant connections, build relationships, and gather valuable supplier insight.

From the information coming back to us via Social Media, we can begin to understand the shape of our RFP response, our pricing, and our Key Strategic Actions. Our Win Strategy is now forming, and we can now move to Proposal Preparation.

Targeted Marketing: 

Any Capture Plan worth its salt has a Marketing element.

How do we get the attention of and show the key people that we are the right choice before the tender package comes to market? 

We used to create PR and Marketing campaigns leading up to tender time. Press articles, white papers trade and adverts – All useless these days as nobody reads them. So what do we do now?

We use strategic Social Media content to catch the attention of those we wish to influence, so we use it in Social Capture Planning.

The Marketing team work with the relevant disciplines to create a ‘Project Specific Content Strategy’, relevant to the upcoming opportunity.  Then they develop a suite of curated content designed to attract the attention of the key people involved in the opportunity.

We might use top of funnel (ToFu), Market Creation type activity for more generic attraction – its called ‘1 to Many’ content.

Or, we can create specific content related to our organisation and specialism but targeted at those who are key to the upcoming tender.

This is ‘1 to few’ content, where we are trying to influence an account, a region or a vertical market.

We can also create content specifically designed to influence 1 person or a small group. This is ‘1 to 1’ content:                      

The Marketing team works with the Capture Committee to develop this Project Specific Content Plan and produces designed and strategic content that is uploaded to a scheduler (such as Buffer or Hootsuite). This ensures we are putting out targeted, relevant, and engaging content, in line with the Capture Plan timeline and schedule.

Proposal Phase

Story boards are mapped out as normal and placed on the collaboration hub along with our section drafts and finals.

Our Management reviews can be recorded and uploaded to the hub for the Capture Committee to review.

Post proposal Phase

We continue with our pre-award activities as normal. Our HR team are now using Social Media to assess recruitment requirements, making connections, and building relationships which all feed back into the Capture Plan.

Start-Up Phase

By this point you are sure that you did all that you could to position yourselves perfectly in line with the upcoming opportunity. 

  • You connected with the key people and built relationships, you produced specific content to show who you are and why you should win.
  • You analysed the incumbent, competition, suppliers and new hires
  • You developed your Win Strategy and plan and you followed the activity and timeline.
  • You have prepared, when the tender arrives you know exactly how to respond and you are ahead of the game.
  • You took an ageing but valuable Sales process and modernised it for Digital territories which are accessed through Social Media.
  • You put Social Media at the heart of our Capture Plan and you are in a better place in this race than any of your analogue competitors (who waited for the tender and started from scratch).

You have taken control of the process and ensured that when the client does come to market, 60% through their decision-making process…they are thinking about you.

Lets talk about modernising your analogue Sales processes and tuning them for your Digital Markets and Territories, accessed through Social Media - You can reach me here: www.linkedin.com/in/ericdoylecrux

Eric Doyle

Crux / DLA Ignite