Sun Tzu on why electronic bidding platforms for most vendors are a waste of time by Jon Hansen

Posted on October 23, 2013


Absolutely agree! ‘Positioning’ for negotiations begins the moment initial contact is made, in whatever manner (phone, website etc.), by whomever (rarely the eventual negotiator). Policies and guidelines for ‘managed communications’ with (potential) suppliers are critical.

Response from reader on LinkedIn to the question “The outcome of your negotiations are determined long before you come to the table. Do you agree or disagree?

For the business warriors out there I am certain that you are at least familiar with the book The Art of War.

Of the many great insights that have been provided by Sun Tzu, one in particular has always stood out for me.  I am of course referring to the statement that “Every battle is won before it is fought!”

It is a powerful observation to be certain.  In fact a recent article in Roz Usheroff’s The Remarkable Leader blog regarding the negotiation process, brought it to mind in the context of an interview I did with government contracting expert Judy Bradt.

The interview, which is available on YouTube through the link below, focused on the assertion by industry experts that 90% of all government contract winners are determined before an RFP is actually issued.  You can immediately see the parallel with the Sun Tzu axiom.

Judy Bradt Interview Part 2

Click image above to watch interview.

And if as the LinkedIn reader by way of her comment contends, Positioning’ for negotiations begins the moment initial contact is made, is the reliance on an electronic bidding or tendering platform in terms of facilitating the initial contact with a buyer, a critical mistake that the majority of vendors seem to make?

Or to put it another way, if you as a vendor are only hearing about an opportunity when you receive an electronic notification by way of a tendering platform such as the Canadian Government’s website or PEPPOL in Europe, is there any point in responding to a bid request?

It is a fair question, the answer to which seems to be overlooked in the features, functions, benefits rhetoric of most tendering platforms.

What are your thoughts . . . are tendering or electronic bid platforms an exercise in futility for most vendors.  If yes or no, please tell us why.