Lay the Foundation (Part 3 in Disciplined Business Development)

You have picked the opportunity. Now what?

You have to develop the opportunity – build the relationships and create your brand and position in the market and with the customer, long before the RFP is released. If you are the incumbent – and this is a rebid – that obviously means doing the best work possible. Show that you’re doing good work – how do your HEDIS and CAHPS numbers look (for health plans)? What are your call center statistics? What percentage of clean claims are paid in 10, 15, 30 days?

And make sure you’re not leaving a mess – are there a pile of appeals on a regulator’s desk? Is some other disaster unfolding? How do you fix it, and make sure that it does not break again?

Suppose you are not the incumbent. Now what? We suggest that plans spend one to three years in the market, prior to the RFP, building relationships. You need to talk to:

  • Providers
  • Community agencies and leaders
  • State agencies (Medicaid, Insurance)
  • Legislators
  • Governor
  • Consumers

Position yourself, using a consistent message with each constituency. Maintain regular contact – don’t just show up once and then disappear for a year. Furthermore – what are you giving the state? Why should they care who you are? Do you have an associated charitable foundation you can use to help make a difference?

Also, as you develop relationships in the state, you might likely be considering partners who will be part of your bidding team. Be sure to vet them carefully – it’s no fun to find out after the bid is in that a particular vendor or partner has some questionable history with the state – and is therefore a liability. In the same regard, remember that state Medicaid directors talk to one another – do you have skeletons in the closet that will be revealed?

In the end – you need to build the buzz – and goodwill – before you bid.

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