SPOILER ALERT! Details from Wes Craven’s 1996 horror film Scream will be rampant through this blog. So if you’re a movie buff not looking to have this nearly 30-year-old film spoiled for you, read no further. I will be divulging key capture techniques that we can learn from the bad guy in Scream. Keep reading if you dare…
What’s it all about?
In case you haven’t seen this 90’s classic, here is a quick film synopsis. A teenage girl named Sidney is pursued by a masked killer who is terrorizing a local American town.
The movie itself pokes fun at the typical scary movie “rules.” I’m sure you’re familiar with some of them. Are you traveling in a group in the dark? Well, hey, it must be time to split up. Want to go for a stroll through a haunted graveyard? Of course!
Sometimes it feels like in every scary movie, the protagonists are looking for ways to end up victim to monsters, ghouls, and killers. But in this case, I have to give the Scream killer – Ghostface – some credit. He had his capture plan on lock. But disclaimer here: I don’t in any way endorse Ghostface and his psycho-killer antics.
5 steps to a terrifyingly target approach
As you may know, the first step to a good capture plan is Opportunity Identification. In the bid world, it is best not to jump at every opportunity. Instead making sure that it first aligns with your company’s marketing and company strategies. Ghostface does this pretty well.
He doesn’t just go after every innocent passer-by that crosses his path. He will only go after victims that align with his overall strategy of getting to his key target: Sidney. Our not-so-friendly Ghostface is particular about his victims, and you should be too. A good tool in guiding your capture decision-making is the bid/ no bid tool. Using this tool will help you identify if your opportunity is worth pursuing.
The next step in capture planning is Opportunity Assessment and Identification. How do we do this, you might ask? Well, gather preliminary customer and program intelligence, of course. Some common ways to gather intelligence are through research, relationships, prospecting/ networking. However, where you gather intelligence is not nearly as important as how you do it. And our scary friend- Ghostface, is a natural.
Successful intelligence gathering requires you to:
1. Listen to the customer
I know, just “listen”. You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. But gathering essential information about your client or prospect requires you to always listen more than you talk. During the capture phase, your goal should be to listen and learn – save your sales pitch for later. Ghostface does this well. He is a masked character of few words, whose favourite method of communication is the phone. For him, half the fun is getting in touch with his next target and making some creepy small talk – but again, he’d much rather listen to their terror than fill up the line with his chatter.
2. Ask good questions
So again, it may seem obvious, but during the capture phase, it’s important to ask those good questions. And then that brings us back to point #1. Listen to the answers! Use any opportunities you can to cultivate a good relationship with your prospect and begin working on identifying their hot buttons that can help set you apart from your competition in your proposal. Again, Ghostface is the question master. His go-to is “What’s your favourite scary movie?”. With this question, he can quickly get to the heart of what his next victim is most afraid of – their own personal “hot buttons”.
3. Determine customer issues
Now that you’ve asked your questions, can you determine the customer’s issues? Sometimes it requires you to dig a little more beneath the surface. Most clients will not offer up all their problems for you to solve on a silver platter. I mean, do you think Ghostface got to just walk up to his targets already tied up and blindfolded? Nope. And the same sometimes goes for us as capture professionals.
4. Provide feedback to demonstrate your understanding of customer needs
In other words, one of the best ways to develop a relationship with a potential client is by showing that you “get them.” Every follow-up interaction with a client provides you an opportunity to prove that you’ve been listening to them and that you understand what they need. So don’t waste this chance to develop and build trust with your customer! Ghostface is always persistent in following up with his “clients”. That creep show has an unmatched tenacity, and he learns more about them from every call and meeting.
5. Identify the decision maker
So the final key in gathering information on a prospect is identifying the decision maker. This is not new information – and I’m sure you’ve heard it from every boss and read it in every sales book. Just because it’s old news doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. Make sure you pin down who will make the decisions in the bid. More often than not, it will be more than one person. Our favourite scary killer was able to pin down his target, and you can too!
Final question. Are you ready?
Special thanks to Ghostface for giving us some unexpected business-winning lessons. Offering us insight into identifying the next bid and giving us some terrifying tactics to gather intelligence almost three decades since his first appearance. Take his roadmap into developing your next killer capture strategy.