Decision to bid

Stop the bid sweatshop!

Energy and enthusiasm are the currency of winning bids, and producing large numbers of proposals spends that currency fast. It’s like feeding a pile of coins into a slot machine – the odds don’t get any better as your cash supply goes down.

Professional services firms that bid on projects, rather than contracts, usually want to win as much business as they possibly can. As a result, many go for too many tenders they have very little chance of winning. Proposals are a carbon copy of one another, despite the fact that the projects and clients are very, very different. As a result, they miss the point and are the first to go on the “no” pile. 

Bidding for business involves a series of sprints, backed up against one another. Wins beget more wins, but losses drag you down. So if you’re chasing a lot of business, but not winning any, spare a thought for your bid team - they are probably burned out, jaded, and disillusioned. This isn't good for anybody. It's not good for you commercially, and it's not good for your staff and their mental health.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you’re bidding, but not winning, then something needs to change.

Over the past five years, researchers Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes and Charles Sull surveyed 7,600 managers in 262 companies to learn why strategy execution fails. They concluded that many managers lack strategic discipline when deciding which new opportunities to pursue, and that “unless managers screen opportunities against company strategy, they will waste time and effort on peripheral initiatives and deprive the most promising ones of the resources they need to win big.”

At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches to an online mini-course to help people make better decisions to bid. This is a module I’ve been running as part of my Master Class for some time but will shortly be made available more widely. If you'd like to register for the opportunity to preview this program free of charge, please contact me.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business won through formal bids, tenders and proposals. She is the author of two books on proposals and sales, including Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. Read more about it here.