When you are in private business, life throws at you all kinds of emotions. One day you are lonely, afraid, worried, and very scared about the life’s choices you made. There is always a voice in your voice coming at you like a mid-night lightning that sparks in the skies with a penetrating light into your bed, followed by a loud bang that leaves you so scared only to realize that light travels faster than sound if you can hear it, you are still alive. Another day, you are all up into the sky flying with the eagles. Life looks good. Things are moving fine. Deals are being closed. And you are looking up to the skies and feeling good.
I do not know about you.
As consultants, we are always on the lookout for opportunities. Some you see in the Daily Newspapers, others you get direct contact from the prospect or government entity, and for others, a friend gives you a tip of the opportunity advising you to try your luck and apply. Thanks to our data analytics, over 95% of all possible opportunities where a ‘friend’ in the private business gave us a tip of the opportunity and asked us to check it out, we lost.
That is true and I repeat. Over 95% of the potential consulting deals where we got to learn about the opportunity from another consultant or person in the private business, we lost.
As usual, we learn more from proposals we lost than those we won. For some projects, we like to be part of the action. We go the extra mile to try to win. So, when we lose, we follow to find out why. Many times, the procurement officers have been trained about transparency and giving feedback. They accept to give you feedback. They listen to us. I have always found that the winner has a direct or indirect link to the person who had tipped us of the possible deal in the first place. Meaning, someone comes to you to help the vendor receive many proposal submissions to ‘legalize’ the procurement process in their winning the contract award.
Newspaper requests for bids are not easy.
It appears I do not know whether it is only to us, but by the time the advert is published, it seems someone has already been hired or a preferred candidate has already been identified. The advert in the papers is like an afterthought to try to let the world know that there was a project to be done! Many times, such opportunities have already been taken. We try as much as possible to avoid responding to such opportunities. Doing so is like a headless chicken running away for safety. It cannot go far. It just keep running, towards the frying pan!
And then the direct invites.
These are usually a result of a satisfied client referral. Or an internal executive who trusts your brand. Or someone who knows of your potential. These are the jobs to focus on. We focus on these.
We are in this for the long haul.
So, occasionally, we get carried away and take the plunge. You read in the papers and see a RFP or request for proposal for a project that is dear to you. You know your firm is the best for the opportunity. Anything to do with strategy, board induction or risk management or forensics is like a served birthday cake. It is always attractive. In that case, you apply.
For reasons explained, we know our low chances, but we do so to learn. But somehow you keep hope. “We are the best in this…. We shall win this deal… we have done it before…” But the gods are smart. You get a rejection.
For some reason, most government entities have a habit of sending the reject letter on Friday evening or Monday morning.
It is like they want to kill your week or weekend. They will usually send someone to deliver the rejection letter. They forget that an email can do it and there is a law on electronic signatures! No. They want to have the satisfaction that you indeed got the message, never to waste their time again, applying.
“This xx from xx. I have a letter for you.” When you are in the private business, and more so during coronavirus times, you want to have a series of good news. Coronavirus has already been full of bad news. We are tired.
Because you sent the proposal, you become very helpful. “Come to Ntinda, complex, Block B, Fourth Floor.” Make sure you are on the road along Capital Shoppers. The excitement on Monday morning or Friday evening is always high.
All you want is some good news to kickstart the week or the day. But that is not what someone else is thinking. They are just excited delivering the letter to you so that they say, “we delivered the letters to all unsuccessful bidders.”
It is Friday evening or Monday morning and you are in a high mood to conquer the world. You are ready to win. And suddenly the letter is dropped at your reception.
“RE: Contract for the provision of consultancy services to xx, procurement reference xx.
We regret to inform you that your bid, concerning the procurement above-mentioned, was not successful.
Reason for rejection: You did not indicate the bid expiry date.”
And that is it.
It comes to your face directly, like dry posho meal served during the coronavirus lockdown.
If you are not confident and strong, such a letter could affect your week or weekend. The most at risk of such letters are the startups. If you lack a backbone and get such a letter. You may become moody. Low spirits. And the whole week gets messed up.
But if you are a hustler. You know in your kind of business, you win some, you lose some.
The wins are always sweet.
You know life is about hope. The strong mental state that tomorrow will be better. For that reason, I do a whole session on positive thinking and hope to my clients regardless of their industry to give them some energy drink for the mind. This is not just about ‘motivational rhetoric’, it is a series of winning games that get people to experience love.
It is so painful to lose a deal because “you did not indicate the bid expiry date.”
You say, we lose some and win some. Next time, I will do better. But when next time comes, the reason changes, “The tax clearance certificate you indicated, is for another company. We needed one addressed to the procuring entity.”
You may continue submitting bids until you realize that it is a game. You are not supposed to win.
It is easy to find a reason why you failed to win a bid.
It is difficult to find a reason why you won the bid, of the rest.
For that reason, the chosen bidder is usually given a tip of how to win. The more I grow old, the more I understand how the world works and tone down my expectations.
But I cannot give up.
My team cannot give up.
We will hone our skills, deliver exceptional services, and develop a powerful brand that the people who win the jobs, come to us to help them deliver successfully. When you do the right thing, you always find opportunities. They may delay. But they always come.
And that is how we win.
Find the best talent. Train them. Have the competitors come and take some? We continue training. Thinking new ways. Exploring foreign markets. Creating partnerships. Pushing the full wheelbarrow up the hill because no one gives up in the middle of the push.
As they say, “winning a race is great. But winning the most difficult race is the best gift.” We are in this for the long haul.
We shall always send the proposals until those who write the rejection letters get tired. They always do.
When you go to the forest, never worry about small noise. It is part of your escapades. Worry when you do not hear any noise as such could mean, you are in the wrong place.
As a private business person or consultant, never worry about rejection letters. Expect so many because each letter gives you a reason to bid the next time. Worry, if you are not receiving rejections, you may forget that you must improve your game constantly to remain among the best.
Always seek for opportunities. Try them out and wait for the results. You have a choice to open the letters from where you submitted proposals the following Wednesday. Things can always wait. You are not an emergency medical doctor!
Have you ever been rejected in business? What was the reason? Did you go find out the reason for rejection? It is good to be rejected. You learn to improve. Keep trying.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.