Service Providers: Winning is Everything!


Though most service providers believe they know how to differentiate themselves in high-stakes Request for Proposal (RFP) selection processes, they are often surprised when they are not selected. What should clients look for in a service provider? It goes well beyond the “table stakes” and the asset play. Service providers need to move from showcasing an umbrella of tools, services and global delivery centers to creating solutions that solve clients’ problems and are easy to buy.

ISG has observed the following Top 5 key principles emerging from winning service providers in RFP processes.

1. Describe the problem succinctly. A winning service provider is able to prove that it understands the problem you are trying to solve. The provider is able to cut through the jargon and clearly describe the problem in terms that make you confident that they listened and understood. A winning service provider also showcases its expertise by establishing something you might be missing or by pointing out additional opportunities

2. Demonstrate understanding. Winning service providers are able to clearly link their understanding of your needs with their proposed solution. For example, a winning service provider might come to an application & development maintenance RFP having sorted all the software applications into a business process map and describe the business workflow. The service provider can then show how this impacts the detailed design of the team.

3. Bring the doers. The experts who shape and present the solution should be the ones who execute it. They need to show ownership for the proposed solution starting day one. This delivery team should describe how it will go about executing the plan while the sales team stays on the periphery.

4. Translate assets. Winning service providers do not bombard you with a plethora of tools and assets. They go beyond jargon like “continuous improvement” and “centralized demand management” and, instead, translate a few relevant assets to complement your assets and form a solution that models partnership. They do not leave the usage of the asset up to the imagination.

5. Make the solution easy to buy. Winning service providers do not make the “hard sell.” They offer terms and conditions appropriate to your business, present low start barriers and operate with legitimate working assumptions. Service providers who know how to differentiate will design frameworks to deal with agility, avoid cookie-cutter solutions and ask for exclusivity instead of commitments.

It takes a keen eye to recognize a winning service provider who incorporates these principles. And it takes skill and practice to guide this winning provider to design a solution that exactly meets your needs. Contact ISG to discuss selecting and shaping solutions with best-fit service providers.

About the author

Prashant works with enterprises to shape their operating models for a digital journey and brings 20 years of expertise in all aspects of applications and platforms, from designing transformations through the whole sourcing lifecycle. Prashant’s experience spans a range of industries, including Financial Services, Telecom and Media, Automotive and Utilities, and a range of geographies, including Europe, the Americas and India. Recently, he helped a Fortune 100 automotive giant consolidate its next-generation sourcing for applications, executing digital transformations right up to application management. He has also structured and run a digital transformation strategy and multi-project execution for a large logistics firm in the Nordics and set up a captive offshoring unit for agile product development in India for one of the world’s largest publicly-listed European entertainment companies.