Drawing clear lessons from the EU election results is proving taxing for political pundits. For me, there is no clear message, except one. And it’s a message that anyone involved in submitting bids and tenders would do well to heed.
The parties that did best in the elections were the ones with the clearest proposition. Whether it was pro or anti Brexit, people knew what they stood for. Parties that tried to sit on the fence and appeal to all shades of opinion ended up satisfying very few and getting punished at the polls.
These same parties also tried to distract the voting public with other issues to be considered within the “who to vote for” debate, hoping that these less divisive areas might provide a stronger platform. Clearly the voting public had a clearer set of priorities.
A Clear Value Proposition So what’s the relevance to bids and contracts? Experience tells me that having a clear and well articulated vision of what you stand for, and showing how this is in tune with your clients’ needs and aspirations, is every bit as important.
Like Brexit, there could be differences in perceived needs from differing stakeholders within the decision making process, especially if the decision is contentious. The way to address this isn’t to make your proposition so vague and loose that nobody could object - that just means that nobody will prefer it either. Far better to argue your case with conviction and make sure that everything you communicate reinforces a clear position about what your solution stands for.
Clearly there is a risk. Picking the wrong side could mean handing success to a competitor. But it would at least avoid the muddled middle ground of no-one being quite sure what your position is.
If you have a defined rationale behind the bids you pursue you will be on much safer ground when sticking with your beliefs. You should already have weeded out the contracts that aren’t a good fit, where objectives are unclear, and where you aren’t in a strong position.
Evidence or Belief? Permit me another brief side-track into the world of Brexit for a moment. What strikes me about the debate is how much it is belief-based. Attempts to introduce facts, evidence and methodical research are generally shouted down as people feel comforted by what they want to believe.
I’ve seen bid teams attempt this as well. When research and evidence point to the fact that a client’s vision may not be in tune with theirs it’s still hard to change tack. Some teams would prefer not to go looking for the evidence at all because it complicates the process. Teams with the best winning records are never fazed by facing up to the reality of clients’ real needs and aspirations.
Pulling Together An unambiguous position makes it easier for the team to get behind a vision and then do everything within their power to convince the client that their solution will deliver the best outcomes. This can be supported by focusing on the 2-3 most important factors that support your solutions and arguing against the validity of the counter arguments that might be being put by your competitors
Know Where You Stand In politics, everyone’s views and opinions are well known to the competition. But with bidding there isn’t the same degree of transparency. So understanding what position the competition might take is much less obvious.
For me that means making sure your solution is as unambiguous as possible is even more critical. In most cases it can only be measured by the procurement team by what they read within formal documents. If it isn’t clear it won’t score well.
Procurers may be also be marginally influenced by what they see or hear through any less formal business communication channels. Whilst these might not be ‘scorable’ they help to build an impression in clients’ minds about your overall value proposition as a business. This may have a slight influence when it comes to scoring the documents. With the difference between winning and losing often being less than 1% ,“every little helps” (as they say). But only if the message is consistent and totally clear.
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.