Just because you're small doesn't mean you can't win big contracts. Here we take a closer look at how you can wow organisations with deep pockets and land major contracts as an SME.
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Large businesses and government are increasingly aware that SMEs can often offer products and services of a higher quality and at a more competitive cost than larger suppliers. Proving this point, we recently won a major government contract with UK Shared Business Services (UK SBS), beating massive IT vendors in the process.
UK SBS was in the market for a new software testing tool, and it chose our bespoke cloud solution over other software options, including HP’s, which UK SBS was using previously.
So how can you make your small business more attractive to massive customers?
Capitalise on the cost benefit
As an SME, you might be able to offer your product or service at a lower cost than large suppliers can, as your overheads will likely be significantly lower. If you offer cloud-based services, you will be able to cut your costs even further, as maintenance and software upgrades will be easier and cheaper.
Even big companies want to save money if they can
Ultimately, all of these factors mean that you will be able to give your customers a better price. For example, the solution UK SBS was using has a cost in the six-figure region, with additional yearly maintenance expenses. By moving the service to the cloud, we offered the same functionality for a tenth of the price.
Make sure your offering is scalable
Before pitching your product to a large customer, make sure your offering is scalable to the level required.
This means that if you don’t already have customers of the same size you need to be sure you can scale up as required and prove this to them in the tendering process. Your systems/product/service should perform just as well (or better) than those of your larger competitors.
Don’t feel like you are at a disadvantage because you’re small. In fact, see it as an advantage. SMEs are nimble and can change fast. This means you can innovate and get ahead of large competitors quickly.
Expect a tender process
Don’t be caught off guard or put off if you have to tender for a contract. Expect this, and be ready. This process will likely include larger companies as well, but don’t be intimidated. If you have a good product you will come out on top.
During the tender process you will likely be audited. Don’t worry about this, but rather recognise the need for companies to do proper due diligence before choosing a supplier.
Recognise the government opportunity
There is a lot of political goodwill towards growing businesses in the UK
If you are not sure where to look for your first big contract, the government is a good place to start.
1) A series of framework agreements with suppliers, from which public sector organisations can buy services without needing to run a full tender or competition procurement process.
2) An online store – the ‘Digital Marketplace’ – that allows public sector bodies to search for services covered by the G-Cloud frameworks.
If you’re a tech SME then make use of the G-Cloud and get your offering listed. Yes, doing this takes time, but it is worth it.
If you’re not a tech company then make use of the government’s Contract Finder tool to find all public sector contracts worth over £10,000.
How you’ll benefit
Targeting large contracts will mean more hard work on your part, but your business will benefit substantially.
Winning a big contract will mean you have more money to invest in product development or your solution/service, and each one you win will boost your profile in the industry, sending more work your way.
You also shouldn’t underestimate the affect winning a big contract will have on your employees - it boosts company morale and gives them another reason to take pride in their work - it also makes you more attractive as an organisation to future hires.
If your product is reasonably priced, efficient, and scalable, there is no reason why big businesses wouldn’t want to work with you. The appetite to support SMEs is there. Make use of it.