The client had decided who they wanted at the start of the process; they favoured an existing supplier; they didn’t write the tender accurately…
The justifications for sticking to our existing approach are many and varied. Keep plugging away and if we try a bit harder we’ll definitely win next time around.
And even if your success rate is good, can you expect your winning streak to last indefinitely? Will what you’re doing now still work this time next year?
How big a shock would it take for you to re-evaluate your presentation delivery or the way you write your proposals? Would yet another failure to win new business be enough? Probably not (see above)! Maybe you feel you can live with a few failures as long as you have enough existing contracts to keep things ticking over.
Perhaps then, it will take the loss of an important existing contract to shake things. But it’s a bit late in the day by then.
Are you saying you’re perfect?
The reality is that things can always be improved. And every failed pitch should be a message that they need to improve quickly. You can always sharpen the use of images in your presentations; your delivery can always be honed to be more persuasive and memorable; and the stock phrases you’ve used in successful proposals in the past can always be enriched, reinvigorated and made more relevant for your clients.
The other reality is that your competitors may not be standing still. What worked last year may have been surpassed by a competitor who used the shock of a failed bid to up their game. Or maybe they’re just more ambitious and willing to invest in whatever it takes to be successful. And in many sectors digital technology makes it easier than ever for clients to find new competitors for your business.
Does your inner voice say it’s time to change?
Often when businesses feel the heat of the competition and finally revamp their approach to bids and tenders, they admit that they’d had an inner voice raising doubts. Deep down they knew their proposals and presentations weren’t as strong as they could be. But they’d managed to find enough justifications to block out the warnings and carry on.
And sometimes the cosy familiarity with well-worn images, words and statements makes it hard to see where improvements are needed.
When I work with businesses, questions like the following often elicit puzzled looks and thoughtful silences: Why do you think that wording will appeal? What impact will that have on a prospective client? Would somebody who doesn’t know your business understand that?
The external perspective often helps get to the heart of the matter.
Yet how often do we convince ourselves that when we fail to win big contract pitches it’s not really because of anything we did? That we don’t need to make any fundamental changes to our approach?
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