Challenge/Issue: Our client had recently lost several major IT services bids. They wanted to better understand how they were being perceived within some key agencies and uncover any deficiencies that might have been impacting their ability to win.
Approach: We conducted several focus groups with customers and prospects in the client’s key agencies and targeted federal accounts. A number of different lines of questioning were used during the groups. Some of these included the decision process for outsourcing, IT services projects and the criterion used to evaluate and select IT service vendors. Focus group participants were encouraged to share their feelings and attitudes toward five different IT service vendors using a unique projective technique. The groups were conducted in special focus group facilities in the evening and participants were paid for their time.
Results: The focus groups revealed some interesting trends on how our client was perceived in key agency accounts. It pointed to some stark differences between perceptions of customers and non-customers. Our client was immediately able to incorporate some of the information learned into its sales training program and bid and proposal process. We then used what was learned through the focus groups to develop a quantitative telephone survey.
This portion of the research enabled our client to validate, across a larger federal audience, what was uncovered in the focus groups. This information was then analyzed by agency and, among other things, pointed to the need for increased marketing and sales coverage within several agencies to help influence how our client was perceived within those agencies. Results from the survey were used over the next several months in our client’s strategic planning efforts.