Did you know that the UK’s public sector spends £200 billion and employs 5 million people?
In order to efficiently provide government services, the sector needs to find suppliers that can meet their needs.
Pre-market engagement can be a powerful tool for both suppliers and for buyers. It can bring both together and provide plenty of useful information.
However, knowing the ins and outs is important to make it work for your business. Let’s take a look at the specifics and learn more about why pre-market engagement can be so valuable.
What is pre-market engagement
Pre-market engagement is a series of interactions between buyers and suppliers before the beginning of official procurement activities. This means the engagement takes place before Invitation To Tender (ITT), Invitation To Quote (ITQs), or Request for Proposal (RFP) are released.
This period of time is mostly about gathering information. During this time, buyers can have a dialogue with suppliers, authorities, or independent experts. They can also scope out the market to gather feedback about upcoming procurement.
The information they gather can be used in planning and conducting procurement. This can be used before they define the exact specifications.
However, it cannot distort competition. It also can’t violate certain principles including non-discrimination and transparency.
Pre-market engagement is often under-utilised by both buyers and suppliers. In the past, EU regulations regarding transparency often caused confusion and fear. However, this is no longer the case.
What are the benefits to buyers
One of the best aspects of pre-market engagement is that it is not lopsided when it comes to benefits. Instead, pre-market engagement is beneficial for both buyers and suppliers.
It’s important to understand both sides’ reasons for participating. This will help you know what potential buyers are looking for and how your business can be a part of the solution.
Through the pre-market engagement period, buyers can learn about the solutions and options that are available to them. They will be able to meet and discuss these options with many different businesses.
This time also builds market interest. More suppliers will become aware that there is a procurement opportunity. This gives the buyer more options.
The buyer can also gather information that can inform them whether the contract should be split into smaller lots. Plus, they can learn about the appropriate timescales for the tender process.
…and what about suppliers?
While pre-market engagement is traditionally driven by buyers, it is also valuable to suppliers. Through discussion, suppliers can gain a better understanding of what the buyer needs. This can then help them decide how they can best cater to those needs.
Because of this, suppliers are able to make their buyers happier. If this happens, it can build a better relationship for future procurement needs.
It also helps in ensuring that the order is delivered correctly. A better sense of understanding ensures that everyone has the right idea going in. If this is the case, everyone knows what to expect at the end of the process.
When does pre-market engagement work best?
Pre-market engagement is especially beneficial when businesses want to market to government entities. Gaining B2G contracts is particularly difficult. This is because the market is one of the most competitive and saturated markets in the UK.
Pre-market engagement gives you a leg up by helping you determine what the buyer needs and how you can help. In competitive areas, this slight edge can make a big difference. In the end, the information can allow you to craft a message that will resonate with them so you can secure the deal.
How does my business facilitate pre-market engagement?
In order to be effective for all parties, pre-market engagement needs to begin very early. Many organizations make the mistake of starting too late. This leaves little time between the Prior Information Notice (PIN) and ITT being published.
Ideally, the buyer should start the engagement process as soon as they know there is a business or service area needed. The PIN should be published as soon as possible, with the aim being at least three months before the intended publication of the ITT. Engagement with suppliers should continue up until the ITT is published.
Buyers may organize market engagement events if the procurement will be larger scale. This could include roadshow days, pitch or hack days, and meet the buyer days. The specific type of event will depend on both the type of deal being conducted and the parties involved.
During discussions, buyers should ask questions that can give useful information. After all, information gathering is one of the main goals of this process. These questions should be targeted at specific factors that will make a difference in their buying strategy.
Suppliers also need to have an effective pre-market engagement strategy. For one, they should expect questions from buyers and have a plan for showcasing their brand.
To do this, suppliers should conduct thorough market research. This can help them understand potential buyers and their needs. Since B2G market research is often difficult, getting help from a public sector marketing service will be crucial.
In addition, suppliers should create outreach plans that will get them on the radar of buyers. It’s important to build brand recognition and trust. Content marketing and email marketing are key ways to do this.
However, you can also think outside the box. In a world that is increasingly becoming more digital, seeking out new opportunities within this sphere can help.
Some examples of new opportunities include offering webinars or hosting live events. These can spread awareness and build recognition as a leader and trusted supplier.
Take Advantage of Pre-Market Engagement
By opening discussions between buyers and suppliers, both parties will have a smoother, more effective procurement process.