Bidding is Only One Stage in the Business Development Continuum
Good bidding practices are underpinned by principles that apply, universally, across the entire sales process: from researching a prospective client organisation, throughout contract or project delivery, and on to after-sales service and the ongoing nurturing of the business relationship.
Yet most training programs treat the production of bids, tenders and proposals as an exercise that is all but discrete from the broader business development and sales discipline.
Certainly, the members of a bid or pursuit team must, collectively, possess a self-contained and complex web of talents and capabilities specific to the task. But you can’t afford them to operate in a vacuum, with processes disconnected from the activities and input of other key players in your organisation.
And yet the sad fact is that few, if any, tender and proposal trainers or coaches actively recognise the importance of these vital connection points, and even fewer know how to coach you to optimise them.
I ensure the participants of my Coaching Intensives come away with a solid, detailed and hands-on understanding of every single skill required to seek, optimise, execute on and articulate the intelligence that leads to winning high-value bids, tenders and proposals. But that’s just a component of the bigger picture of my coaching programs. I also ensure your people depart with the insights and skills to work in close alignment both with your business development (“BD”) and delivery teams, multiplying the value of all the inputs in the BD and customer care continuum.
That’s the way you not only win contracts more convincingly and with greater ease, but also the way you retain those contracts for the long haul, or position your organisation for profitable repeat business.
Winning Bids, Proposals and Tenders Is All About Identifying What Represents 'Value' to Your Prospect
Providing your client or customer with ‘value for money’ (‘VfM’) is the only way to do business honestly, ethically and with integrity.
Demonstrating your ability and willingness to do this is also the best way to win bids, tenders and proposals.
The challenge lies in understanding the prospect’s/customer’s/client’s definition of VfM ... which, in mission-critical, high-value contracts, is rarely about the cheapest price.
You need the skills to identify what precisely it is that represents the desired VfM in any given transaction, for any given client, at any given time.
Well-planned, in-depth, early research with an open and inquisitive mind is the starting point. Next is the ability to ask quality, insightful questions. Then comes the capacity to truly listen to the answers. Next comes the ability to think.
Of course, that’s the macro …. just the key stages in the process. But if it’s accepted that that’s the framework and that framework must be taken seriously, the micro processes that make for a winning bid strategy (a strategy designed to achieve the client’s true VfM objectives) will follow naturally.
That’s the topic of my multi-industry signature book, Think & Win Bids: Winning High-Value, High-Stakes Bids through Superior Questioning, Thinking & Listening Skills. It’s borne out by all case studies in the book, and also by the views of the many industry leaders that contributed their thoughts and wisdom to my Cracking the VfM Code series, written for the infrastructure sector.
There's No Substitute for Thinking.
Understanding your prospective client or customer organisation’s vision, mission and challenges is central to presenting a solution or a team that is closely aligned to its culture, its needs, its hot buttons, and its own specific definition of value for money.
(It’s also vital to ensuring your organisation is more closely in tune with the prospect than your competitors are.)
There are many component talents, disciplines and other inputs required for consistent peak performance in bid strategy and bid writing. There are numerous elements of the overall picture to get right both at a collective, and at an individual team member, level before your business development “machinery” starts to really function smoothly and result in an ongoing series of stress-free, resource-effective, competitively superior bidding performances.
Many consultants try to shortcut the process, encouraging your people to rely on pre-formulated tools and templates, and other crutches that result in “inch-deep thinking”. Before long, that superficial level of thinking and reliance on prompts becomes an entrenched modus operandi for your organisation. Filling out forms, tables, grids and prompt sheets becomes your bid talent’s idea of peak performance.
Your Brain’s Output Will Win More Bids than the Output of Templates & Tools
However, achieving a consistently high win rate over a sustained period of time, is the product of planning and thinking, not of tools and templates.
It’s about operating in an organised, structured – and at the same time, free-thinking – manner to ensure the alignment of your own corporate goals and strengths with the specific opportunities you choose to pursue. It’s about working (and thinking) hard to understand each prospect/client organisation’s world and its specific priorities. And it's about identifying exactly what it is that represents its definition of “value”.
It’s the practice of first and foremost seeing every aspect of the potential transaction (be it a long-term supply contract, a public infrastructure project alliance, or anything in between) from a genuinely client-centric perspective. That’s fundamental to ensuring that the strengths and proposition you build your bid strategy upon are meaningful to your prospect.
I’ll Show You New Ways to Think
It’s about learning to think logically, deeply, nimbly, proactively and client-centrically.
It’s about high-performance brain power employed in an orderly, consistent manner towards the successful pursuit of strategic new-business acquisition.
And it’s about the ability to ensure the entire organisation operates in a manner that supports its lifeblood bidding and tendering teams, along with its business development frontline.
If you'd like to discuss a smarter, more strategic, and holistic approach to bidding, call me.