Implicit Needs Analysis – Deal Winner In Pursuing Large & Strategic RFPs!

Implicit Needs Analysis – Deal Winner In Pursuing Large & Strategic RFPs!

The total commercial value after 2 months of deliberations to bid or not, turned out to be $48 Mn at the end pursuit life cycle for a competitive large RFP. Customer was a large P&C Insurance house in USA with 9 million insurance policy holders and ~15 million policies, all in print format. Customers objective was to go-green – move away from the print format and opt for electronic policies. RFP goals and objectives:

  1. Offer total managed services including Application outsourcing + Infrastructure outsourcing + Data management
  2. Re-engineer, re-develop new applications, maintain the existing data farms, with added and/or renewed hardware and cloud infrastructure
  3. Customer will not fund a penny, which meant vendors has to first invest on all possible aspects, transform their IT estate to desired state, save money, propose appropriate proportion of realized savings as vendors ROI
  4. Multiyear deal, preferably 5-10 years managed services
  5. Highly Competitive bidding, very stiff competitors – 7 global IT giants, including 5 Indian companies

The above was the customer perspective, stated or written RFP needs. For any sales or Presales person this was a pretty challenging and interesting deal, they would have loved to pursue this deal. This was very similar to Bharti Airtel and IBM deal, where you earn as you transform and save to the customer. This also means the solution should be penny wise.

What I am trying to emphasise here is not the size of the deal or the multi tower service offerings, but how almost all the vendors failed to do a thorough “Implicit Needs Analysis” or the “Unstated customer and/or RFP needs”. They failed to unearth an important implicit need and its associated IT enablement. The whole pursuit team including sales, Presales, technology horizontals or practices and the BU leadership was not able to unearth this implicit need.

The “unstated customer and/or RFP need” as you know is the Implicit Needs, you read it right – it is not explicit, it is not mentioned in the RFP, it may not come out during discussions. These are supposed to be unearthed by the vendor’s pursuit/Solutioning teams. Not surprisingly even the Insurance Company was not aware of this one major need.  

The Implicit need in this RFP was – while the rewrite or reengineer or transform customers IT estate in going-green, what is the mechanism to convince and convert these millions of policy holders to go-green. This Implicit need of who will convince millions of policyholders, how will they execute it, what if policy holders decline, how will vendors motivate them to accept digital insurance copies, what mechanisms or strategies will they deploy, what business outcomes will they achieve, associated risks, enablement, dependencies were not thought thru by the six other vendors.

A European competitor did this thorough needs analysis, made it evident to customer that the RFP was incomplete and it had to include Campaign Management to convince customer’s customers to assess the willingness to go-green. This vendor also had done homework as to what % of policy holders will accept and what has to be done to convert the rest. An amazed customer, as well as all the bidders went back to their drawing boards. Customer issued an addendum that Campaign Management to convince customers was part of the deal. Scared, two vendors dropped out of the fray, while this European company made further strides.

Implicit customer needs or unwritten RFP needs may be small and frugal, but at times, they swing the deal in the favor of who thinks thru that – Think from Customer’s customer imperatives, their businesses, their stakeholders and respective stakes, their hot buttons and prerogatives.

The European vendor gave a total go green transformation pitch, on three counts – strategic level, execution level and tactical level. They also had the audacity to solution the deal to maintain customer’s IT estate not only for 5 years, but also for 10 years. Customer had found its true strategic solution partner.

Implicit Needs are hidden needs, not for the sake of hiding. They are mostly buried underneath, you need to read between lines. They need to be inferred and later ratified with right stakeholders. 

Now I leave it to your judgement who won the deal and for what reasons.

Along with the explicit, stated RFP needs, please pay appropriate attention to unearth implicit needs – think customer’s customers.

This article originally appeared on