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When it comes to selling professional services, closing the deal is a multi-step process. A successful outcome requires a plan that starts long before an actual client solicitation hits public release. The three stages of procuring contracts are opening game, middle game and end game. Understanding these stages better equips you and your team to win contracts.

Opening Game

The opening Game describes sales activities for a new client with which you have no prior experience. Typical opening game activities include cold calling and distribution of marketing materials such as brochures to introduce clients to your company. Such brochures might include a firm bio, descriptions of current and ongoing relevant projects, brief resumes of key staff and other pertinent info. Opening game is the first part of building a relationship with potential client staff.

Middle Game

For the middle game, you have reached out to client staff and have developed a relationship. It often involves regular phone calls and visits to get intel on upcoming projects. In an ideal relationship, you and your clients talk freely about their projects, gaining insight on their desires, issues and concerns. A strong middle game also includes a thorough assessment of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats through a SWOT analysis, a popular marketing tool employed by experts such as Eyal Gutentag.

End Game

Once a solicitation or request for proposal becomes public, you are now in the end game. You respond to the client’s requirements for qualifications, past project info, staff resumes and legal certifications. You will put together a submission that is fully compliant, detailing why your team is best qualified to deliver the project(s). If your submission is scored highly, you’ll either be awarded the contract or shortlisted to further compete for the contract.

Having a successful plan through each stage of the selling process better equips you for success. The key is developing a relationship with potential clients and demonstrating that you and your team are qualified to deliver their projects while adding value. A strong middle game shows that you’ve done your homework and have the insight to develop a winning proposal.