When people have put hours of effort into a bid, and when that bid has been through rigorous internal review, any criticism - however positive - can be hard to handle.
I’ve seen many occasions where valuable client feedback on an unsuccessful bid is sanitised to make it more palatable, or even discounted as inaccurate or biased. This is a natural and understandable human reaction - but is it helpful?
Where there’s no honest appraisal of a bid’s strengths and weaknesses, there also tends not to be any action planning to ensure the next one is going to be more successful. To get better, you sometimes have to take the medicine.
Downplaying or discounting criticism is rarely deliberate and often not consciously done. And, of course, you don’t have sight of the winning bid to make comparisons. Sometimes it can come down to minor differences in how answers are phrased or structured - the difference between winning or not can be tiny.
Will Comments Still Be Relevant? An excuse for skirting around feedback is sometimes that there could be a significant amount of time before the client releases further projects to tender. While it’s true that the important criteria can change because the marketplace is dynamic and the needs of the next project will be different, that’s no reason to avoid taking feedback seriously.
Certainly, you can’t simply assume that the comments that were fed back last time will still be 100% relevant. That’s almost as bad as copying and pasting answers from one bid to the next.
You have to understand where each new project sits within the client’s strategic objectives and identify how you might help them achieve these.
Can You be Impartial? Being objective and impartial about a bid you are close to is hard. That’s not a criticism or a weakness, that’s just part of being human. That’s why an external resource for analysing feedback and reviewing bids before they are submitted is so valuable.
When The Bid Coach is reviewing a tender document we’re not trying to make the questions fit what suits our business. We look only at what the client is really looking for, unclouded by whether or not you could meet those needs.
With our experience as assessors, we can see through the written words to the unspoken meaning or implications behind them. One of our clients calls this ‘seeing the question within the question.’ Again, this is an area where clients say we add significant and objective value. If you want to get better at winning bids and tenders you have to be prepared to take feedback on board, and take it in context so that you are continuously improving your performance. Working with somebody who isn’t quite so closely involved will help you see things more clearly.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.