Positioning to Succeed – A True Story

“How on earth did you win that project?”  I asked my friend.  “You’ve never built any hospital project in this state, much less a new bed tower and central energy plant,  and you were going up against some of the market leaders. Did you wow them with your presentation?”

“Well I had mixed reviews on the presentation,” he answered. “One fellow, the Facilities Director, told me later that we had the second best presentation. He didn’t like our graphics. Really liked something the other guys did. So I asked him, how we won.  He said that after all the presentations were done, the CEO said , ‘well they were all good and informative, but I want to work with Joe, so how do we make that happen?'”

I said, “Man, you must have played a lot of golf with that guy.”

“No, he doesn’t even play golf,” he chuckled.  “In fact, I never took him to dinner. For that matter I never even took him to lunch.”

He continued, “what I did do is meet with the CEO nearly every month for a year. Sometimes with the CFO as well.  I helped him find someone who could do a patient demand analysis to determine which service lines to feature.  Another time I put him in touch with a client in another state who gave him lessons learned in navigating the political waters for re-locating to a new campus.  He was having a physician alignment problem, so I set up a meeting for him with someone who had come up with innovative solutions in a similar situation. I helped him look at cost implications of a variety of development scenarios, especially tracking dollars going to revenue generating program space versus non-revenue generating in each scenario. That led to re-conceptualizing the project to emphasize revenue generating spaces first to create greater cash streams to pay for future phases.”

“So you just became a solutions resource for the guy, even for issues beyond your company’s expertise,” I mused.

“Yes. In fact it got so he would just call me and say hey I need some help with whatever. Can you help me or do you know someone who can?  At our first meeting, I told him our core business was construction, but there were other resources available to us that would be much more relevant for quite some time.  I rarely brought up construction after that. One day, when the project was finally about to move forward to selecting the architect, he asked me, ‘what actually does your company do?’  I told him, we can build it for you, and he said, ‘that would be great.’ What’s really nice is I never felt like I was selling.  We just seemed to be working together all along.”

Readers, this is a true story and the dialog is real.  It beautifully illustrates what we mean by being positioned to succeed. It’s not schmoozing or expensive entertaining. Rather effective positioning is:

  • doing the homework,
  • understanding the business and political issues the CEO is facing,
  • finding partners with the expertise to help you help the client,
  • shaping the opportunity to truly align with the CEO’s objectives for his own strategy.

Achieving that alignment and the trust accumulated in doing so is a winning combination.  The best part is, the client is the biggest winner.

  1. […] blog, I related a story about a great breakthrough win for a firm in a new market. (See WOA blog:  Positioning to Succeed – A True Story.)  Today I want to tell you that it didn’t just happen by itself.  In fact the pursuit was […]

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