It’s no surprise that winning profitable new work aligned to your capabilities and goals is vital for business. And like it or not – it’s a competition. And like every competition – you need to prepare for it.
Many businesses have a structured bid-no-bid process in place. But if you don’t have one, or just want to sense check where you are up to, then the pointers below are a good place to start:
- Is this core work you are already engaged in? If so, great – you should have lots of case studies and evidence to point to.
- Or is it a sector you are trying to grow your experience in? In that case, check the requirements for experience and case studies. It may be worth considering teaming up with others as you establish your position in the market.
- Does the bid align with your business plan goals? If it doesn’t – then question why you are even considering it.
- Have you done your background checks on the client? Are they well established in the market, do they build long term relationships with suppliers, do they pay on time? Or is it a simple price competition?
- Do you have a relationship with the client? Do you know who is evaluating the tenders and how much influence the client has? Can you build a relationship with the client – or is it all transactional and outsourced to a consultant team?
- Are you already working for the client, or for closely related stakeholders? This could be a great opportunity for advocating your merits – but once you have their trust, you need to maintain it. Delivering what you promised is key, but so is how you manage difficult situations. It takes time to build trust and you can break it in an instant.
- Are you comfortable with the commercial, financial and risk parameters? What does the return on investment look like? How big is the contract compared to your existing turnover? Is the risk allocation clear – are you comfortable with it?
- Do you have the team available to bid & who is your “controlling mind”? You don’t need to have managed a bid before to be successful, but it does need commitment and focus. The leader needs to work quickly to establish your vision and strategy and hold the team to it. If the bid is a quick turnaround, then the team will need to be full time. If so, you need to make sure that can be facilitated, anything less and you are in danger of diluting and wasting your efforts.
- Do you need any external input? Sometimes employing a specialist bid writer can pay dividends. They are skilled at crafting compelling responses and can save valuable time. What about graphics and interview preparation?
- Have you got the team that can deliver the work? Even better if some of the delivery team can be involved in the bid and meet the client if there is an interview stage. If you don’t have right the team to deliver – one that has the experience and can deliver the bid commitments and the return on investment to the business – or you can’t assemble it in time, then you really shouldn’t be bidding for the project.
- Do you have a USP or a differentiator? This is so valuable; it can counter against a “lowest price wins” scenario by creating value for the customer. A great idea can be the thing which gets you noticed and builds a relationship with the customer.
- Do you have time to get your team ready – and brief them properly? You need to be able to get the whole team together at the start, give them a proper briefing and outline your strategy. Its worth over-compensating at the start to make sure you generate momentum.
- Do you believe that you can win? All of the points above will influence how you feel about this. If you believe you can win, then press on. If not – then perhaps re-direct your resources to something else.
This needs to be worked through, ideally before you start to bid!