Does your organisation still implement a shotgun approach and bid for everything? Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“We have to bid, it’s strategic”
“We were invited, we’re in with a chance”
“We probably won’t win, but we need to put forward a bid”
Your bid team and resources are limited. And if your team are anything like the hundreds of other bid team members we’ve worked with – they are probably already overloaded with work. Every time you ask a bid team member to take on additional bids, you are asking them to give up their personal time (something most bid team members are already doing) or to compromise on quality (making them feel like they are not doing their best work).
Long term, this results in low morale and exhausted, burnt out staff members.
So what is the solution?
Better qualification of bid opportunities before assigning resources.
Get strategic. Only bid for contracts you know you have a good chance of winning and can deliver successfully.
We have pulled together some handy hints and tips on implementing a bid qualification process that will help you to bid smarter and increase your win rate. Every organisation operates differently, so it is best to pick and choose from the list below to develop a bid qualification process that best suits your organisation.
Growth / Sales Strategy Alignment
One rule that is consistent across all organisations is that the bidding process must be aligned to an organisations growth or sales strategy to have any chance of success. If your sales, bidding or even operational teams aren’t aware of, and aligned to a consistent pursuit strategy, you will not have any hope of implementing a set of rules by which to make decisions. The strategy governs how the rules can be implemented.
By implementing a bid qualification system which is closely aligned to your growth strategy, you can streamline your bidding processes and ensure that your resources are directed to only the opportunities that you have a strong probability of winning.
Get Stakeholder Buy-In
For many companies, introducing new systems successfully is reliant on key stakeholder buy-in. And this can be very difficult, particularly if there are long-tenure staff who bring with them experience and history of systems which need to be replaced. However, it is important to note that wholesale changes to an organisations business process will simply not be successful without buy in from the key stakeholders. In the case of bidding process, this includes the chief executive or managing director, and their senior management team. Once you have these individuals on board, it will be significantly easier to provide a directive which the whole company must adhere to.
As everyone knows, consistency is key to implementing any new process. When faced with pushback from within the team, you need to be able to stand your ground apply the new rules consistency. There can be no exceptions. If your sales people have to follow the outcome of your bid qualification questionnaire – so does your CEO.
Set a Bid Budget
Set a budget for the bid team. For every bid to be developed, have the sales lead assess and develop a proposed bid budget. Assign values for different levels of operations and have them estimate the number of days’ effort required. And keep them accountable to these figures.
Hold the Sales Team Accountable
Taking the accountability one step further, you may choose to link the bid budget accuracy to the sales lead’s bonus. This will keep them accountable – even if they aren’t burning the midnight oil, or in the office over the weekend, when the bid is being finalised.
Apply for Resources
Rather than just accepting an unlimited amount of work (as many bid teams have a tendency to do), start calculating the number of man-hours required to complete a bid. This should fall out of the bid budget submitted as part of the application process.
This resource planning will also help to ensure the bid qualification process is accurate and that leads are kept accountable.
Develop a staged process to the bid qualification process. Like any big mission critical project, it is wise to revisit the bid against a set of criteria at various gateways.
We suggest implementing some or all of the following:
- Initial pursuit – when the opportunity first comes to light, prior to the formal tender phase
- Formal bid qualification gate – when the formal tender lands and business needs to decide how to assign bid team resources
- Kick off meeting – following detailed breakdown of the tender documents and bid management plan development, ask your direct team if they believe this opportunity is likely to be successfully won
- Story board review – ask your bid and review team – are we able to answer each and every question in a high scoring way?
- Legal review – the terms and conditions should be independently reviewed by your legal counsel in conjunction with the tendering conditions and terms. Any ‘show stoppers’ should be considered carefully in line with the decision to continue a bid.