UK: The Secret Is Out!
Last Updated: 19 November 2003

Winning New Business

For years some companies have been much more successful at winning business than others, but they’ve been keeping their secrets to themselves.

Not any more – the University of Luton’s business experts have discovered the truth, and they are prepared to share their knowledge.

Their new ‘superbidders’ research has been developed into a resource pack that can turn losers into winners.

Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas, Professor of Competitiveness at the University of Luton, the report’s co-author and editor, explained: "For years, people have known those more successful companies must be doing something that the less successful aren’t. Now we know what it is.

"Our new research finds that the companies that are most successful at winning new business perform 18 key activities better than their less successful competitors.

"There is a great divide between ‘superbidder’ companies – those which win business from more than three-quarters of the customers they pitch to – and ‘loser’ companies, which pick up contracts from fewer than a quarter of their bids.

"Our report, which will be of most value to companies selling products and services in competitive bidding situations, reveals that superbidders start to build their lead over the less successful, right from the early stages of customer contact.

"The final stages, when the customer haggles over terms, are less important because, by then, ‘losers’ have already been eliminated from short-lists."

The new research from the Centre for Competitiveness at the University of Luton – published as Winning New Business: the Critical Success Factors by Policy Publications – is based on a detailed study of 304 companies.

Researchers found that 83 per cent of superbidder companies are ‘very successful’ at understanding the value or benefits customers expect to gain from their products or services compared with only 19 per cent among the ‘losers’ – a gap of 64 per cent.

The researchers also found 73 per cent of the superbidders are ‘very successful’ at understanding the cost of ownership issues which influence customers’ buying decisions, compared with only 10 per cent of losers – a 63 per cent gap.

And 67 per cent of superbidders are very successful at establishing the superiority of their products and services compared with just 11 per cent of the losers – a 56 per cent gap.

Superbidders sustain their leads over the losers on other key business winning issues. These include understanding the factors the customer considers when purchasing a product or service (45 per cent), developing person-to-person relationships with potential customers (45 per cent) and understanding the business environment in which a customer operates (44 per cent).

Professor Coulson-Thomas said: "Our research has an important lesson for any company that wants to improve its success at winning new business. Any company can improve its business winning hit rate and bridge that great divide.

"The difference between the winners and the losers is that the winners find out what is really important and then focus huge amounts of energy on performing those tasks better than anybody else."

* Winning New Business: the Critical Success Factors, a 172-page report, is available as part of a Winning New Business resource pack. The resource pack also includes Bidding for Business: the Skills Agenda, a research report which show how to raise performance in the top 20 skills needed when pitching for new business and The Contract Bid Manager’s Toolkit, 30 key worksheets and checklists based on those used by new business bidders and designed to make a pitch more successful. All three publications are included on a CD-Rom which also features animated presentations about winning new business.

The resource pack with all items costs £395 and is available from Policy Publications at 4 The Crescent, Bedford MK40 2RU (tel: 01234 328448). The resource pack can be ordered electronically from

*Note to editors: For more information about Winning New Business or to speak to Professor Coulson-Thomas.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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