Have you successfully won a place on a Framework agreement? Now you need to attract eligible buyers under this framework agreement to buy your products/services.
1. Understand the framework award
To attract new customers to place business with your organisation under the framework, first you need to understand your position on the framework. For example:
- Is it a single supplier framework? If not, how much competition do you have in your lot on the framework from other suppliers?
- If you are not the only supplier in your lot, do you know how you scored in the tender process? Understanding the scoring in terms of price, technical ability/quality and lead times will enable you to appreciate how well your company is ranked. This could be useful information going into the mini competition stage) and inform your bid strategy for that stage. This information may also assist in forming a marketing strategy for engaging with potential customers under this framework, for example if you know from scoring that your organisation is the most cost effective, or achieved the highest quality score – these would be important messages to relay in your marketing communications
- Information on the number of suppliers awarded will be located in the Contract Award Notice. Information on the scoring of your submission and debrief information should be included in the standstill letter.
To identify your potential customer base under the framework, you should consult the contract documents in order to identify the list of potential framework customers. This information may also be sourced from the buying Authority/organisation.
The framework customer list can then be used to create your own framework database which you can then use to organise categories of customer to whom you can target your communications. Such categories may include location/geography – and prioritise those potential customers where you already have a presence nearby.
Other target categories could include, expiry dates of their current arrangements, or type of organisation (such as Hospitals, Councils, Schools for example). With your customer categories developed, you can then move onto developing your communications strategy.
2. Develop a communications strategy for the framework
Factors to consider in developing a communications strategy for each customer:
- Does the framework holder have a marketing plan or strategy that you could be part of and use to your advantage
- Any local/regional contacts your sales team may have with the customer – can these be exploited?
- Engagement of your marketing department to assist in the drafting of suitable communications
- The customer category type according to the target categories you have identified when reviewing the framework customer list – how do the messages you will convey to each category need to differ?
- Consider development of a framework specific targeted promotion to go to framework buyers – which sets our your USPs/why they should move to you (as noted above, this could be informed by your framework scoring).
- Put together a communications plan which schedules introductory email correspondence, followed up by a scheduled phone call and request for a meeting.
- Are there customer events or shows that you can attend as a way of introducing your organisation and the framework?
- Undertake market research to understand what arrangements the customer has in place for their current provision, to make your offer fit with expiry of their current contracts. Knowledge of their existing (incumbent) provider may inform how you offer and adapt your services to the customer, for example if you have USPs that are superior to those of the incumbent.
- When communicating with new prospects, consider the inclusion of information or case studies on any neighbouring sites, or similar customers with similar requirements that you currently have contracts with. This will demonstrate experience and synergy with their requirements, in addition to coverage in their area.
- Your communications can also detail any additional, complimentary services or social value that you could offer – perhaps there is some added value that will benefit each customer? A method of service, product or system that perhaps not all other suppliers use.
Always ensure the communications provide the potential buyer with the details necessary to use the framework. For example, do they need to sign up with the original buying authority prior to placing orders or running their mini competition with you?
By engaging with frameworks customers as sales prospects and through good regular communications, a good relationship can be formed with potential buyers, making it more likely that such buyers will work with you in the future.
Remember, once the framework has been awarded and the lots have been shortlisted to potential suppliers, no additional suppliers can be added to the framework (this differs under a Dynamic Purchasing System). This means it is in the interest of the buyer to work with the framework suppliers as they should not want the inconvenience, or cost of starting a lengthy procurement process for their own individual contract.
Management of Customers that Use a Framework
Once you have won customer contracts under a framework agreement, standard customer account management should apply – including:
- Service Level Agreements being defined
- Management Information reports being generated and sent frequently, and
- Contract review meetings taking place every quarter.
In addition to the individual customer account management, also consider account managing the framework holder – even if they do not have a contract with you. Scheduling 6 monthly review meetings with the Authority/organisation who tendered the framework will enable you to understand:
- how the framework is performing
- an overview of buyer activities on the framework
- if they plan to promote the framework, what their promotional activities will be
- if you can get involved with/be part of their framework promotions
In addition to the activities outlined above for attracting new customers, if you have a place on a framework and have not yet been awarded a contract, there are still things you can do to promote your presence on the framework.For example, establishing points of contact for the customers who can and may use the framework throughout its life, publishing marketing material and offering incentives and value adds, such as providing marketing support for events or sponsorship opportunities. Knowledge sharing is also seen as a value add and whilst you may not be successful in the first instance, building those relationships and evidencing your capabilities and willingness to provide assistance and expertise, will most likely pay dividends.
Your next steps, in order to gain new and additional customers under the frameworks you have been awarded is to 1) understand your place on the framework and how it will operate, and 2) to develop a communications strategy for promoting your organisation under the framework.
Please get in touch if you have any further questions about submitting a response to a framework tender or indeed if you are already on a framework and need guidance about how to maximise your opportunities for winning business under it.