Open navigation
Close navigation

Winning a retender contract when you’re not the incumbent is like persuading a customer to switch bank accounts

20 July 2020

How long have you been with your bank? How often do you see adverts on TV with better incentives and products for why you should switch? Do you ever do it? What would it take until you do?

Bank A: Their interest rates are competitive. Their mobile banking, chat features and wait times are acceptable. They keep your money safe.

Bank B: They overcharged you on an overdraft fee 10 years ago, but they quickly put it right. They also gave you a good deal on your mortgage and home insurance because you bank with them. They only target you with products that may be useful based on your spending habits and give you great cashback deals. Someone cloned your card and spent £500 in TK Maxx, you called them, got through quickly, and they sent out a new card and reimbursed you within 24 hours.

Bank C: Their wait times on the phone are long. They only contact you when they want to sell you something. You never hear from them otherwise. They never send you your bank statements on time, and you’ve been asking them to switch to paperless for about a year, but they still keep coming through the post. They once lost every penny in your account and it took three months to sort out, and multiple efforts from you to prove you weren’t to blame.

Which one would make you switch?

Bank A is the general status quo that most clients experience. Bank B is a service that is rarer and when you find it, you’ll overlook the odd small error. Bank C is enough to make you switch!

“I have no idea if the incumbent is doing a good job or not”

If you have no idea, why are you bidding? The tender should never be your first contact with the client (see the previous article Would your target client hire you to look after their kids?). You have to know them well enough to learn how their incumbent is performing. The main client and incumbent relationship might be between two childhood friends, golfing buddies, ex-colleagues. Relationships as strong as these are hard to break up once they are already in.

When to bid on a retender

Your best shot at winning a new contract when there is an incumbent:

  • The incumbent is doing a really bad job – Not just a few mishaps here and there. That would still be too much of a pain to change (remember your bank account!).
  • The main client contact has left the business – This leaves the relationship open to build a new one.
  • A new client contact joins – This contact will already have their favourites and will want to bring them in. If that’s you, the door is wide open.
  • You submit a knock-out tender – 70% of your ability to win a tender relies on everything you do before the tender lands. You must nail this AND submit an amazing tender response that focuses squarely on their challenges and objectives and offers them valuable solutions and evidence.

So next time you are umming and aaahing over your decision to bid for a contract when there is an incumbent, remember this – what would make you switch bank accounts?

For more advice on winning business contact Alison on