Bid Process - The eXceeding Way

Our consultants have been delivering bidding expertise for decades to all industries and all values. From £50k to £1bn, it is really important that bid resource is focused to actively:

  • Increase your win rates,
  • Maximise your margins,
  • Reduce bidding costs.

There are many bid processes available that could be followed, the problem with these are

  • They do not lend themselves to smaller opportunities
  • They do not have flexibility around shorter timescales
  • They are very focussed on corporate Governance rather than adding or increasing value.

We have defined the ‘eXceeding Way’ which encompasses a pragmatic way to incrementally add value to each stage of the process. Using tried and tested methods, we can demonstrate that this process can increase an organisations win rate from circa 25% to 80% whilst reducing bid costs by around 30%.

Opportunity Analysis

Once an opportunity has been identified, we assist with the analysis to determine its strengths and weaknesses, this is not just when the ITT documents arrive, but it is when an opportunity is first identified. We collaboratively review the opportunity with client’s sales, operations & finance teams, with everyone contributing, we will provide a score against the following characteristics:

  • Real – Is the customer going to see this through (is it possible they cancel the procurement)? Do they realise what a project like this will cost? Do they have budget?  
  • Achievable – Does the client have sufficient time and resources available to complete the tender?
  • Winnable – Do they have relationships with the key decision makers? Is this a good fit for their business?
  • Profitable – Is this the type of business that they can deliver profitably, will this tie up key resources in low GM work, etc.

Once the Opportunity Analysis is completed, we will be able to identify some steps to increase their likelihood of winning, it will also help identify opportunities that    realistically the client should not be pursuing (increasing win rates and reducing costs).

Once the ITT has been launched, we can run the analysis again to identify if the situation has improved or worsened since they were first made aware.

Needs Analysis

Key to winning tenders is understanding the drivers for change, this includes:

Buyers matrix:

  • Who are influencing and who is making the decision to award?
  • Who is the ultimate decision maker (the Economic buyers that control the budget)?
  • Who is running the procurement and what rules and processes must we follow?

Although a personal relationship is favourable, if we know who the individuals are, we can profile through research.

Invitation to Tender (ITT) stated requirements

  • What are the stated desires of the procurement, this is often very different from the actual needs of the decision makers and influencers.

Corporate needs and requirements

  • What does the corporate organisation’s overall mission statement, how does this procurement play in to that objective?

Win Themes

Once we understand the actual needs from the groups identified in the Needs Analysis, we can develop three compelling win themes.

Each win theme will be:

  • Totally unique to the bidder,
  • Focussed entirely on the end client,
  • Articulate a tangible benefit to the end client.

In a nutshell, ‘Partnership / Quality / Local office’ are NOT win themes. ‘We will save  you 40% on your initial CapEx with an estimated 20% OpEx saving per year thereafter’ IS a win theme.

See it less as a ‘Win Theme’ and more  of a ‘Promise’ from the bidder to the customer.

To simply test the win theme, imagine if the Commissioning Manager speaks with the CEO at the coffee machine, the CEO asks, “Why did you choose Bidder A?” The answer will never be “Partnership working”!

Solution Design

How is the bidder going to deliver the win themes? This could be an organisation structure showing the governance, relationships, reporting, innovation forms etc. This needs to be entirely customer focussed. Standard boilerplate company organisation structures is not the answer here. Bidders should include the both customer and the client on their chart, by individual’s name if possible.

The key here is to make sure that this is clear, roles and responsibilities are understood and you can use it to describe how the win themes (or promises) are going to be achieved.

Storyboarding

There are 2 key parts to our storyboarding process.

Part 1 – Understand the question, understand the marking criteria and page limits.Create a standard template that meets every aspect of the scoring criteria.If the evaluation criteria states “to get 5 points you must demonstrate Value add and innovation” make sure there is a section for ‘Value Add/Innovation’ for each response.Also include ‘evidence’ for each response and make sure it fits specifically with the question.

Part-2 When Part 1 is completed we work with the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and lead them in filling in (bullet form) the key points that need to be articulated for each section within each response. Once you have done this you ask the final signoff authority to agree to the structure and content. When we do the final review, it will be reviewed against the Storyboard. This avoids last minute additions, direction changes and amendments (wasting time!). 

The final strategic stage will be allocation of the responses and creation of a review timetable.

We always ask that you have an internal team review of the first drafts.

Writing

For what is usually the primary focus, writing now becomes the most straight forward. This is just the completion of the responses against the storyboard. This is wordsmithing of storyboards that have already been clearly planned and populated with information, themes, evidence and the solution.

Reviewing

Review the final responses and give direct (and helpful) feedback to the authors.

Remember, we are reviewing against the agreed Storyboards.  Check to see:

  • Does it answer the question?
  • Does it articulate your win themes and solution?
  • Is it clear and a pleasure to read?
  • Does it demonstrate empathy with the customers situation?

Presentations

At the presentation stage the customer is looking at you to deliver against their requirements. This is where the deal is won or lost (regardless of what it says in the scoring criteria).

As such, it is such a shame when you hear that the presentation is cobbled together from standard company slides, and the only chance the team have to run through is in a coffee shop an hour before the presentation.

Sufficient time and planning should be set aside to nail the presentation. Ensure your key messaging and solution are used throughout to make it personal to your client demonstrating the outcomes that you will deliver.

Think who will be attending from your customer and what they need to see.

Think about who you are taking with you. Although it may seem impressive for your sales lead to take the Sales Director and MD, the customer is more focused on the delivery team responsible for the required outcomes. It is important that you show some battle scars at the table which gives reassurance to the customer that you have successfully dealt with likely challenges the customer may experience during implementation.  At this stage, the customer is looking to minimise their risk and the best way to do this is show them experience.

The final point to mention, your presentation team must do multiple ‘dry runs’, they should all be familiar with each other slides, how they hand over from one person to the next, how long each person talks for and agreement on how questions should be handled.

Handover into Business as Usual (BAU)

They do say winning the bid is the easy part! Clearly articulating the solution from the start means the commercials can be calculated accurately. It is may seem obvious that someone from delivery should be included on the storyboarding process, but they are frequently forgotten until contract signature!

We carried out some analysis, and customers that ‘land well’ in to BAU typically increase their spend by 40% in the first year. Those customers that don’t will typically start the relationship with the contract on the table and you are having very different discussions rather than growth.

We have experience of helping customers of all sizes. In a nutshell, by using eXceeding and our expertise, we can help you reduce your bid costs and increase your margin and win rates.