Steven W. Smith, president and managing director of WSP SELLS (Briarcliff Manor, NY), a 250-person transportation and infrastructure firm, has previously wrriten in this space about firm leaders setting the tone and riding out the economic downturn. Today, he checks in with advice on winning more work:
"There is nothing worse than coming in second, no matter how many firms submitted on a project. This is especially true when it is a quality-based selection. If you come that close to victory, there is something you did not do that could have placed you over the top.
"A perfect example of this is a project we recently pursued with a $4 million fee. WSP SELLS had performed all of the studies leading up to the solicitation for final design. According to our staff, the client loved our studies and it was ours to win. We made it to the shortlist of five and the presentation stage of three firms, and then lost to a key competitor. If you asked our staff what more we could have done, they were hard-pressed to provide an answer. I knew there was a reason and upon further questioning of a key client contact, we found the answer. Our worthy competitor evaluated our studies, and proposed the exact opposite, larger-scale solution that the client said they did not want during the preliminary study phase. They took the one approach that we assumed the client had discarded earlier and beat us with it; by convincing the client they were wrong in discarding it.
"Moral of the story: second place is simply getting beat by someone thinking harder than you!"
What do you think about this? Do you feel the same way about your firm finishing second?