The oil and gas industry has changed significantly over the past several years. Gone are the days of high oil prices, abundant work and little oversight.
The big players in the oilfield have tightened their bid processes, requiring more and more details about their vendors (if you're lucky enough to be invited to bid).
For oil and gas vendors and service providers, bids have become more competitive than ever. Winning a bid has become a make-or-break scenario for a large portion of the market, some of which will not survive the hard times ahead.
I have worked with my share of sales and marketing professionals, and the ones that set themselves apart have built a career on building relationships with their clients. The ones who are struggling have maintained a "sit back and respond to requests for proposal" strategy.
Developing relationships in the oilfield is not about getting in good with someone so they hand you a contract, but it does offer advantages.
In our current competitive environment, knowing what is coming down the pike before anyone else can give you the head start you need to get across the finish line.
I'm not saying that your contacts in the client organization will give you any inside information that could get anyone in trouble. The better you learn your clients, the more information you can gain from interacting with them on a regular basis.
On the flip side, if your potential clients don't know you, or that you sell the very goods or services they need, it's unlikely you'll even get an invitation to bid on their next project.
And don't wait until you're thirsty to dig your well. You should be cultivating relationships with your potential clients through the bust times as well as the boom.
Becoming the Expert
When looking for information for a purchase decision, you don't ask anyone off the street; you seek out experts in that field. Your clients are no different. They want reliable information from a trusted source to help make their buying decisions.
Think how much easier your prospecting would be if you were that trusted source. Not only would you have an easier time closing those deals, you'll also be one of the first to know about them. Getting an inquiry from a client before the release of an official RFP could give you the added prep time you need to provide the most comprehensive proposal.
Where to Start
Becoming a trusted advisor to your client base means providing the information they need, in the places they are looking, in the format they prefer, at the exact time they are looking.
Sounds like a pretty specific set of circumstances, but it really boils down to being one of the few (or the only one) providing the type of information your clients need.
Developing an online presence is one of the easiest places to start. Anyone can write an article or record a video about their area of expertise.
Beyond just building your expertise online, the oilfield is still very connected to conferences. Speaking at events puts you and your company in the spotlight, and takes advantage of the credibility of the conference and its hosts.
Finding Your Comfort Zone
Not everyone is comfortable speaking in front of large groups, while others hate the idea of sitting down to write a few hundred words for an article.
Wherever your comfort zone lies, it's all about delivering your expert knowledge to the people seeking a solution to their problem.
If you're not the one solving your customer's problem, it's likely that one of your competitors is.
The digital oilfield is becoming the new norm. If you're not on the leading edge of the digital curve, you could be falling behind. For more information on how the oilfield is changing, check out our related article here.