The one document you need to start doing business with big companies:
Your Capability Statement
A short while ago, I received some panicked phone calls from a couple of small business owners. In each case, the business owner had been asked by a potentially large client (a mining company in one case, and a government department in the other) for a “Capability Statement”.
One of the business owners did actually know what a Capability Statement was, but had absolutely no clue how to prepare one or what should be in it.
The second person told me that they had to suffer a long, uncomfortable silence after their prospect asked the fateful question. He had no idea whatsoever what a Capability Statement was, so he couldn’t even answer yes or no. In his potential customer’s eyes, that probably wasn’t a good look. At that point, his pitch took a major step backwards – probably into oblivion.
So, what is a Capability Statement?
A Capability Statement is a cross between a company brochure and a business card on steroids. In short, it tells your prospective client exactly what you and your company are capable of doing – your capabilities.
Think of it as your company’s resume, telling your prospective client how you will solve their particular problem.
I’m sure you would never dream of giving the same resume and cover letter to every potential employer (although some do). Similarly, you will tailor your Capability Statement to the individual client you are trying to attract. In each one you will address that client’s particular issues, and how they will benefit from engaging your company. If you serve several market segments, prepare a separate capability statement for each segment.
For example, one of my own companies provides services to both the agriculture and mining industries. These are two very different markets, so a different Capability Statement is appropriate for each of them.
You need to clearly convey 4 things in your Capability Statement:
What are your competencies? What is it that you do? What products or services do you supply? What areas do you serve? What size projects can you undertake?
What makes you different from your competitors? Why should they choose you? Do you have any special licences, patents, equipment, software? What is your Value Proposition?
Details about your company such as your contact details, company structure, ABN, insurances and such.
What experience have you had doing similar work to that which you are pitching to your big client. Who can your prospective client contact as a referee?
Why have a Capability Statement?
Because you have to: WA Capability Statement is often required when submitting Tenders. In fact, for many companies and government contracts, this is a must. Not having one will ensure that your proposal falls at the first hurdle.
Communication: A Capability Statement is a powerful communication tool. In the world of big business and centralised procurement, it can be hard to make your message heard. Your Capability Statement lets your prospective clients know the main facts about your company, so they can make initial decisions about engaging with you.
Building trust: First impressions are important, and a well prepared and informative Capability Statement is a strategic marketing tool. It is often the first touch point that starts the process of building trust between your two organisations. It may even contain some sensitive information that you have prepared just for that client.
Differentiation: Your Capability Statement is the ideal tool to reinforce your brand and your value proposition. This is your opportunity to tell your prospective customers exactly why they should engage you rather than your competition.
Make it look good
Your Capability Statement should be a visually attractive document, so engage a designer if your skills don’t go beyond Microsoft Word. High-quality images and no spelling errors are compulsory.
What to put in a Capability Statement?
Starting your first Capability Statement from scratch can be quite daunting. To help you along the way, I have prepared a short template. The template can be downloaded here. I’d love to hear if you find it useful – just leave a comment below, or drop me a quick email.
Bronwyn Reid | 17 January 2017