Bad bid experience? It doesn’t have to be that way…


For some organisations, tendering for work is a necessary evil and it’s fair to say it requires significant time, investment and tenacity to win work in this way.

Very few people talk to me about positive bid experiences; in fact, at a recent networking event, I lost count of the number of people who said they disliked working on bids or talked about a deadline that had completely thrown their week out.

Bidding has a bad reputation but I believe by focusing on 3Ps – your processes, people and proposition – we can all bid a little smarter and perhaps even enjoy it!

All my posts will be about winning and tendering for work, starting with three tips on improving your 3Ps.  The takeaways are relatively quick and affordable but have the potential to transform your bidding experience.

1. Declutter

Most organisations will have some form of bid library where their company information is stored and it may well have seen better days with complex folder structures and out-of-date content.

Business development and bid managers tell me they spend, on average, 20% of their time on bids searching for company information and previous bid content. With some of these working at a senior level, this becomes a very expensive activity.

Not only is it costly, it also impacts on the quality of work as staff alternate between creative bid writing and more transactional searching or copy and paste tasks. Adapting between the two means they rarely get into the flow of their work so never reach optimum levels.

I have found this to be pretty common across businesses of all sizes and whilst bid teams get used to working with this, the reality of how it is impacting on their work means it’s more important than you think to declutter!

What can I do?

The idea of a complete declutter can be overwhelming and difficult due to resources and work demands but if you spend just 15 minutes per day on your bid library, you will begin to see a difference in a relatively short time. Taking it one folder at a time means you are more likely to complete the task instead of putting it off and you will soon recoup your 15 minutes per day when you are working smarter on your bids.

2. Build a brilliant team

Some people thrive in a high-pressured bid environment, working to tight deadlines and spending late nights in the office, but in my experience that is relatively short-lived.

The initial excitement and adrenaline carries you through those first few bids and may even last for years but working in this way is not sustainable unless your staff are equipped to deal with it. Not only does regularly working under pressure affect health and well-being, it is proven to impede creativity and productivity.

Helping your staff to understand and build their resilience levels will create a strong team that is able to proactively manage pressure and deliver high quality work whilst maintaining a positive working environment.

What can I do?

Understanding your employee motivators, stressors and work styles allows you to work with, rather than against, their natural attributes. There are many free personality profiling tools available to use online or my good friends at Evolving Edge can help you understand more about building brilliant teams. Profiling your team will help them and you to work better, together.

3. Take the time to be creative

Clients tell me that due to tight deadlines and multiple bids they often find themselves churning out the same old bid responses, copying and pasting them before tweaking a little to fit the client or bid. Time is wasted doing transactional bid management work and not enough is spent on developing the stand-out offer required to be a successful bidder.

It’s important to take time at the beginning of a bid to work up your proposition, before you even consider the process of getting the bid done and submitted. This also engages staff early on, promoting ownership and generating excitement about the bid project – this will also help when it comes to motivating your technical bid writers (a topic I will discuss more in future posts).

What can I do?

Make your bid kick-off meeting a time for ideas. Forget about the bid programme, deadlines and roles for the moment and have an open discussion about what the client wants and how you are the best people to give it to them. A top tip is to hold this early in the morning as creativity naturally peaks first thing.

To talk about working smarter and winning more, email or tweet @sonorthernedge.

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