When should you get impartial feedback on your bid - before or after it’s submitted?
Getting honest feedback about your tender submissions is essential. Asking for structured feedback from clients is something every business that is serious about improving its bid win rate should do. Yet a surprising number choose not to take the opportunity. Or, if they do, the lessons remain buried in the bid file rather than being shared. But post-tender client feedback isn’t your only option for getting useful feedback.
In many ways you can’t beat feedback ‘straight from the horse’s mouth.’ Feedback from your client or their nominated bid review team should be totally objective. And it will be directly related to the bid you just submitted. You should also get insights into what positive things the winning bidder did and why their submission was scored higher than yours.
Why don’t more businesses do this? Maybe it’s because it’s after the event and the outcome isn’t going to change. For some, hearing about where you fell short despite believing you had answered the client’s questions can be dispiriting. Some may even worry about confrontation and damaging the relationship for future bids.
Losing a Bid Hurts More than Your Pride
The impact of losing a high profile tender is significant. It could affect investor confidence and your reputation in the marketplace. There’s also the issue of the time and resources that you sink into bids for no return.
So, is there an additional way to get feedback, one that could influence the outcome of the tender and be seen as a positive growth opportunity for your bid team?
The other option to consider is getting expert and impartial input before the bid is submitted. The obvious advantage of this is that there’s still time to change things and to submit a sharper proposal with a better chance of success.
Other advantages of engaging an impartial outsider to review your tender before you submit it include:
Are There Pitfalls?
Valuable as this process is there are a few things you need to be prepared for. It’s not unusual for technical experts to see it as interference and to view attempts at simplifying the language as making their bid less credible (dumbing down, if you like). There’s a sense that making answers too easy to understand somehow undermines the image they want to project of being experts.
Also, the review takes up time at the end of the bid preparation process, where it is usually in short supply. There’s also an element of trust. There will be a cost and still no guarantee of a successful outcome (we can only influence the quality of your bid, not your competitors’).
But, internal reviewers tend to overestimate their ability to be impartial and will often be fitting in the review around their normal work. They will also be accustomed to your corporate jargon and the things you assume that everyone knows (even though your client may not). That’s possibly why businesses consistently overestimate the quality of their tender submissions.
The pre-tender feedback certainly isn’t a replacement for getting post tender feedback from your client - you should always do this. But it can be a powerful way to improve your chances of success and the skills and objectivity of your bid teams.
If you’d like to know more, or you’re currently working on a bid that you have to win, give the Bid Coach a call on 01963 240555.
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.