So, now we’re getting a bit lost and the bid is losing the direction we thought it had at the beginning. It’s a bit like a hike in the mountains when it’s getting late in the day and people are tired…no one is really sure on the right direction but everyone is chipping in about where they think we are and where they think we should be heading. The chances of getting to the end with any sense of dignity?…ZERO!
Much like a trek in the mountains you wouldn’t set off without either knowing
how to guide your group along the route or getting someone else with those skills to do it for you. It’s harder to pull it back from the brink when you’re exposed and in the middle of nowhere than planning in advance and sticking to it. When you get your bid strategy wrong it’s not just a cold night spent on the mountains but lost revenue, wasted time and effort and the worry of having to replace the income with something else, and quickly.
This was the unfortunate experience of a new client who recently bid for a £multi-million contract.
They held a workshop at the start of the process to generate ideas from which they published a bid strategy document, so all’s well and good I hear you say. But when you start to read the document that was intended to guide the bid team through the bid process with clear direction it starts to unravel.
The actual work described in the invitation to tender was a three-stage process of designing the product, building it and then ensuring its performance over its lifetime. However, the strategy document only dealt with the middle part, which is where my client has most expertise.
My client’s strategy comprised three points that were all valid but leaned more towards the bidders worries than those of their potential client. There was no detailed analysis of the questions that the procurement team wanted answered and certainly no guidance about how they might interact or what interdependencies existed that might eventually create a holistic proposal.
Without this vital analysis and information the technical authors were left stranded…it’s like their map had just blown away in the wind and they were left to consider where they should go next? And that’s when the differing opinions start and your bid ends up going in all directions!
A bid strategy needs to be really clear and short…it’s not about what you want to say to your client but what will win this bid? In other words, from the client’s point of view “what’s in it for me?” Your technical authors need to know the high level strategy so they can weave this into each response and the approach you will take to solve your client’s problems.
It’s best to engage your business development managers so you get an insight into the conversations they’ve been having with this client and what is really important to them. But don’t stop there – research your client’s issues and objectives further to really understand their business, their expectations and, importantly their aspirations. By digging deeper into all the background information you’ll find out and better understand the problems that your potential client is facing. You can then choose the most appropriate goods or services to help solve them and show your client how their overall goal will be achieved.
Those of you who read my posts regularly will recognise this as the Vision 3Ps Process and know the importance of taking your client along that journey of discovery…you can learn more by reading ‘Think Like Your Client Using the 3Ps Process’.
The detailed analysis of the questions is also important because you are likely to task different technical authors to draft the responses. If you fail to connect your bid into a comprehensive and rounded approach it will appear to be disjointed and your potential client might get the sense that you are disorganised.
Your bid strategy document should now be starting to look like a proper Bid Roadmap with an overall, high-level strategy that is aimed at how best to win the bid, and a detailed analysis of each question and how they relate to others so authors can discuss and coordinate their answers. And, all of this is backed with great research and with detailed knowledge of what is important to your client that is clearly stated throughout your Bid Roadmap.
Look back at a previous bid and assess the guidance you gave your team. Take a look at the finished bid and see if your high level strategy was clear throughout each response and whether the answers related to others to give a comprehensive approach. Now consider:
- What feeling did you get about your bid strategy?
- If you were an author, did you have enough information/ guidance to do your job well?
- What impression of you do you think your client had when reading your bid?
Next time you bid consider your findings and either write a strongly directional Bid Roadmap or get someone who knows how to do it to write it for you.