Fine-comb each step of your bid process to identify areas you need to strengthen
The road-to-revenue for most B2B organizations, passes thru the bid stage. Bid outcomes have a direct impact on how the organization fares. When the going gets tough many companies introspect their products, pricing, as well as sales teams. A similar attention to the bid process can yield better results.
Let’s look at the 7 areas you need to look at in order to improve your bid outcomes.
1. Bid engagement – Engaging adequately early and mapping all the relevant stakeholders is key to winning. Responding to tenders after they have been released may force you to play to your competitor’s ground rules. Marketing, BD, and Sales & bid team – have their roles cut out in terms of who should engage and at what stage of bidding. More here.
Pro-tip: Ask yourselves – What percentage of your bids do you engage, before the RFP is released.
2. Bid Qualification – While it’s the customers who arrive at the vendor shortlist based on vendor capabilities; vendors also need to determine the fitment of bids to their strengths, even before bidding. Based on the client requirements and the business terms, is the deal attractive? Is it in the sweet spot? Can we deliver? Can we win at a reasonable margin? For large bids involve cross-functional stakeholders and keep the decision quantitative by scoring the key parameters. Qualifying bids for winnability will ensure your organization is investing its efforts on the bids its most likely to win.
3. Bid Response and Development – Once the submissions are done, the client is looking at multiple bids from different vendors. How do you make your bid stand out? That’s where the quality of response matters. While most organizations focus on the content of the proposal, more attention to the SME involvement and reviews is equally critical. Reviews can bring about the gaps/areas which require better articulation to reflect the RFP requirements.
Second part which will impact the quality of response is the collaboration amongst bid team members. Is the understanding of client expectations same, are the roles and responsibilities clear, are the internal and external timelines well understood, is there a mechanism for quick and clear clarifications?
Having the right members on the team, involving experts to review/guide, and ensuring all the members are on the same page will ensure your bid catches client’s attention.
4. Bid Pricing – If things are going south, this is an automatic area of attention. The default reaction is support for lower margins in pursuit of wins.While that can be a temporary solution, bringing together and analyzing past bids along with competitor data can reveal the best insight to formulate a better approach going forward. Most of us create multiple pricing scenarios to arrive at the best possible option. But do we plot the price-to-win based on historical data of - similar bids and competition. Analyze the previous bid pricing by - deal type/category, size, territory, industry and sales team. Invest in a deal analyst if you can or at least start collating deal pricing information in a common repository. More about it here.
5. Bid Governance – Do your processes support deal wins? Having processes and systems to support deal actions is a no-brainer. Yet our reviews can be water-cooler conversations, approvals can be in emails, and submitted documents in some individual’s laptop. Did we skip solution reviews in the hurry of the submission? Did it impact our technical ranking? Were all the changes suggested by the Design team incorporated in the final BOM? Was the Risk Register taken into account before the final approvals? When a large renewal deal comes up, are you crystal clear about the approvals/deviations given earlier. Do you lose sleep if one of the key team member was to leave? A simple, efficient system to support your bid processes will deliver visibility and insights to help you improve the next bid outcome.
6. Bid Analysis – AI and ML are the buzzwords in today’s world. Their adoption to the bid processes may not be very distant. How about starting with BI – Business Intelligence. Ensuring all deal win-loss information flows thru together such that it can aid future deals. Starting with deal-win ratio, deal-win probability, results of “similar” deals, competitor analysis by territory. There’s lots that can be done with 2 basic things – discipline to capture data and merging it in a central store. More here.
7. Bid sourcing – In a B2B scenario, one needs to be constantly filling the top-end of the funnel with more and more opportunities – direct sales, partnerships, channels, distributors. And now social media. Can you answer this - what percentage of your leads come from non-direct channels?
Getting the above right is an ongoing process. If you would like to benchmark your current processes reach out to us for a free Bid Process Maturity Assessment and get started>>
Comments and observations welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.