We all know that developing ‘win themes’ in your bid is the best way to ensure that your key messages are highlighted and that they will help your customer understand you better…WRONG!
I’ve often sat with bid teams preparing to start the process…enthusiasm abounds and lots of ideas are flowing about all the great things that their company does and what people believe the customer wants to hear. Surely by connecting these things together and using win themes to direct attention our customers will realise that we are better equipped to undertake the work? …WRONG!
Ok, I’ll stop shouting now…
Has anyone ever shared a problem with you and you’ve jumped straight in with a solution? I know I have, only to really irritate that person with my solution and then been told that I’m behaving like a Mr Fixit! Perhaps you’ve been on the receiving end of advice that didn’t really take account of the issues that were troubling you and inside your head you were thinking, “…I wish they’d stop trying to fix everything…”
You see, most of us have a willingness to please others by what we do and it’s easier to give our solution without really understanding the issues and worries that the person we’re trying to help is facing.
So how does this relate to bids and win themes? Simple…
What most people do is to read the bid and then immediately think about all the things that they do in their company that will solve the problem. What they don’t do is take the time to really understand all the issues that have led to the customer looking for outside help. And, if you fail to do that then anything you say will fall short and not reassure your customer that you really understand the problem they are facing. This places you in a position of ‘selling’ rather than ‘solving’.
Here’s a good example: I worked with a construction company, who we’ll call Well-Build, on a bid issued by a local council. The council wanted to use their pension fund to kick-start the construction of new housing, regenerate local communities and help young people buy their first home. These were important issues but did not give the whole picture.
Of course, we could have written endless win themes around how Well-Build could meet these issues…they’d done it many times before and as a nationally recognised house builder had won countless awards to prove it.
We dug deeper and took time to look at the whole picture from the customer’s point of view. It became obvious that whilst the council wanted to achieve all the things mentioned before, they were going to the market because their pension fund wasn’t performing well in the current financial conditions. This placed enormous pressure on the Fund Manager who was risking the council employee’s money and he could face losing his job if the project failed.
Rather than just looking at win themes relating to how Well-Build had built great houses, regenerated communities and helped young people onto the housing ladder, we developed our winning ‘bid strategy’.
Our bid strategy was the single most important theme that ran through everything we said and all the solutions we offered- without it our customer would have failed to see how our proposal was relevant to them or how it would meet their objectives, and ultimately their aspirations.
So, next time you’re about to respond to a bid invitation…STOP. Think it through from your customer’s point of view and develop your winning bid strategy. And if you need help to do this or want to use our bid preparation workshop tools just give me a call.