Importance of value — Looking beyond lowest bid

Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations
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This article was published in the December 2019 edition of NTEA News.

Bottom line can be a defining point for both suppliers and customers. Years ago, and prominently in the government sector, low bid often determined where purchases were made. Times have changed, though, and greater importance has been placed on total cost of ownership and best value, in addition to initial cost. As a sales representative, you may have little control over the end price, which means shifting strategies to a best value may be a successful process.

Value is in the expectations
Knowing and meeting customer expectations is the first step in bringing a value-added component to the equation. Having internal quality processes and assurance programs is important, but understanding customers’ quality standards is more valuable than an internal program. While your company’s quality standards may be sufficient, it’s important to address customers’ unique expectations.

Communication is key
Poor communication can quickly reduce the value of a product, expectation or professional relationship. It’s important for fleets and suppliers alike not to make assumptions. As a supplier, you have a responsibility to ensure end goods meet quality standards and customer expectations.

Often, as an industry professional, you may be in a position to recommend solutions. When provided with a customer-supplied specification, though, it’s important to deliver as designed on paper. There may be times you feel you have a better idea, but purchasers may have unique needs of which you’re unaware. If you truly believe there’s a better solution, a potential strategy is to respond with an offering as requested/specified, as well as an alternate.

In the end, if you have been successful with defining and meeting expectations, customers will view you as a supplier that provided a product at the best possible value. This means you’ll likely have a much better chance of seeing them again.

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