ON-TARGET STRATEGY FOR MISSION-CRITICAL BIDS
Winning high-value, mission-critical bids and pursuits is all about the accuracy of your read on the client, its environment, its sensitivities, its priorities . . . and precisely what represents ‘value’ to that client (and every stakeholder group within and associated with it) and why.
Likewise, understanding your prospective client or customer organisation’s broader 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.)
Being guided by this critical intel is the best way to (a) assess whether the battle you’re considering entering is one you are likely to win, (b) formulate your strategy for winning it, and (c) formulate a (post-bid) profitable and sustainable service and delivery plan or program.
It’s also the only way to make credible claims in your bid submission, and the only way to enter into a truly informed, honest, ethical and high-integrity business relationship with the client or customer organisation.
But . . . being thorough – genuinely thorough – in your pre-pursuit / pre-bid investigative process requires military-style order and determination. And frankly, not many organisations / bid teams have the appetite for this degree of investigation. Sad, because this is a degree of drill-down that would actually shoot them out in front of the competitive field in an almost guaranteed manner . . . and ensure that the offering they’re formulating is going to be (a) bang on target, and (b) competitively superior in all regards considered strategic by the client.
Sad. But not for YOU. Because YOU recognise that this low level of commitment and discipline on the part of the enemy offers YOU the precise advantage you’re looking for to win your mission-critical bids and any other pursuits in which you have high-value, competitive territory in your sights.
Fair warning: It’s not for the faint-hearted. Read what clients have said here. Note that in amongst the multiple pages of glowing testimonials are several that indicate I’m a formidable drill sergeant, who’s tenacious in the quest for victory on behalf of her clientele.
My coaching programs are not just “educational”; my clients say they are transformational.
And my mentoring is based on tough love.
Here are some of the underlying principles on which my strategy facilitation and formulation, and my coaching programs and in-the-field mentoring, is based:
It’s Going to Be All About PriceArgument
With price often NOT the deciding factor at all (nor the usually largely irrelevant bells and whistles many organisations throw in to sweeten the deal), it’s the degree of tenacity in the information-gathering and intel-conversion process that underpins just how closely the final submission comes to the target.
Well-planned, in-depth, early research with an open and inquisitive mind represents 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.
Many consultants try to shortcut the bid strategy process, encouraging reliance on pre-formulated tools and templates, and other crutches that result in “inch-deep thinking”.
It’s sweet and easy . . . but 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.
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.
(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 (‘VfM’ = Value for Money), written for the infrastructure sector.)
At the macro level, formulating your bid strategy – or battle plan – involves taking high-value intel and combining it, in an orderly and concentrated process, with high-performance brain power.
At the micro level, it involves employing many different types of thinking (often simultaneously): logical thinking, deep thinking, nimble thinking, reflective thinking, proactive thinking, intuitiveness . . . and, always, always, client-centric and win/win thinking.
Ensuring the entire organisation operates in a manner that supports its lifeblood bidding and tendering teams, along with its business development frontline, represents one of the key areas in which most bidders can gain broadscale competitive, consistent advantage.
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.
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. And 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.
I ensure that the management, business development, and bid teams I work with develop an acute recognition of the fact that bids, tenders and other forms of submission are simply the fired ammunition . . . and that it’s the entire company’s inputs that lead to that critical end-point of the battle.
That’s the way you not only win more convincingly and with greater ease, it’s also the way you retain the ground you’ve won for the long haul, position your organisation for profitable repeat business, and gain a reputation as a fearsome opponent to go up against in competition.