Quite an emotive subject for many of us! But nonetheless, some points come out of it that are useful “refreshers” in our overall business development and “pitching” efforts.
Of course, there are a number of variables that we may never know about. That said, three things stand out for me which definitely have relevance for professional services marketing too:
1. The technical merits of each bid weren’t the deciding factor, and the precise scoring didn’t have that much of an influence. It seems likely that (whether explicitly or otherwise) each bid had to meet a minimum level of quality and have an “acceptable” level of risk that the voting members of FIFA felt was manageable.
I’ve seen this in much of the research we do where clients of professional and financial service firms respond. Firms have to meet minimum criteria to be short listed but their precise performance on technical criteria rarely “wins the work”.
2. The real decision was made from a mix of more qualitative, strategic and emotional factors. In this case, the “strategic” imperative was probably about “bringing the world cup to new locations” . So, the detailed technical criteria were of less importance than this. Again, we regularly hear about clients wishes to have “trusted advisors” or “business partners” who demonstrate that they understand what the business and stakeholders are aiming to do. Understanding the strategic drive is key
3. Relationships counted. Put bluntly, 22 “voters” (as we all are) were influenced by relationships, whether they liked the various people in the bids, and what was in it for them. I don’t mean the latter based on alleged “bribery” – who knows whether that happened – but based on their own agenda and what was important to them. Building relationships and being trusted enough to gain insight into these agendas is a real art that not all professional services fee earners have.