Here are a few thoughts that might help you focus.
How good is your success rate?
Before 2013 becomes a distant memory take some time to review the contracts that you pitched for last year. How many did you win? Does your win percentage represent a viable return for your business?
Are there patterns you can detect with the types of contracts or clients where you tend to be more or less successful? Does this tell you anything about where you could focus business development activity more productively?
For the ones you won write down the main factors that were critical to your success. What was it that really convinced the client to choose you? Also, write down the main reasons why you think you failed with the others. If it helps, map all of these factors onto a SWOT analysis for your business development activities.
Do you have a sound resource plan in place?
How much of a strain does responding to bid and tender opportunities put on your business? Given your current success rate, how many opportunities will you need to pursue to achieve your growth targets over the coming year? Now you have to decide whether your organisation can cope with this level of bidding, proposal writing and presentation creation or whether you need to look at individual responsibilities and workloads.
It’s a time to be realistic. Try to take on more tenders without addressing the resource issues and your success rate will almost certainly drop even further.
Could you reach your goals by winning more often?
Pursuing more opportunities and more tenders means more work. And sometimes it makes more sense to concentrate on improving your success rate rather than increasing the number of contracts you try to win. Instead of committing time and effort to chasing more potential contracts how about committing that effort to getting better at securing the opportunities you already have?
When you looked at the wins and losses in 2013 it should have been possible to identify 3 or 4 areas where your approach to bids and tenders could be stronger. Rather than just carry on with more of the same put some plans into place for how you can improve your success rate.
- Are your proposal writing skills as strong as they need to be?
- Are you putting enough effort into understanding what your clients are really trying to achieve?
- Do your proposals and presentations have clear and persuasive themes that will stick in your clients’ minds?
- How many times did you try to ‘wing it’ in presentations in 2013 because you were too busy to prepare and rehearse? How many of those did you win?
- Are you comfortable delivering presentations and is your delivery to a sufficiently high standard?
I’m not going to pretend that any of this is easy to do. The more thoroughly you analyse your wins and losses the more you will learn. The more detailed the plans you put in place to target your efforts, deploy your resources and develop your skills, the more successful you will be. But if securing contracts through bids and tenders is essential for commercial success, it’s hard to imagine what could be a higher priority.
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