Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Please Don’t Bid (even though you’ll make me lots of money)

You’d think that a company would listen when the consultants they pay to write proposals tell them to no bid a job.    Sure, we’d make money on the proposal - but we’re not doing our clients justice by knowingly helping them to essentially waste their B&P funds.   So, today I advised a client not to bid a job…and it’s not the first time either.
Revenue Demands.  The pressure to win more work to meet aggressive numbers in this tight economy is relentless.   So rather than circling the wagons and focusing on less opportunities that have high pWins, I’ve noticed a trend in some companies to go in the opposite direction.  They choose the shotgun approach, seemingly hoping that if they submit lots of bids, something will eventually win.  In almost every case they are wasting time and money.  And more importantly, these efforts take resources away from better opportunities with higher pWin rates.
From a proposal management perspective this approach is really frustrating – it’s akin to playing the Super Bowl with a middle-school team.  Bidding on a low-probability RFP hurts our win rates and makes our job really difficult – we want to write good proposals, write them in a chaos-free pace, and we want to win. 
What is a proposal consultant to do?  It’s really quite simple – tell your client you think it is a bad idea to bid the job.  But, you need to support your case.   Compile your own Bid/No-bid briefing based on really basic concepts such as:
  • Strategy development including themes and discriminators
  • Customer intimacy and domain knowledge
  • Capabilities against requirements
  • Relevant past performance
  • Price to win and maturity of pricing solutions
  • Teaming arrangements mapped to requirements
  • Maturity of management and technical solutions
  • Proposal Risks

Proposal Risks can make powerful BNB cases.   Develop Proposal Risks with impact statements and risk management plans – remembering that some risks cannot be mitigated and must be accepted.  
Prepare this information and present it to the Capture Manager and any other pertinent stakeholders.  Explain that all these factors minimize your ability to write them a compelling, winning proposal.  Be concise yet complete.  There is no guarantee they will cancel the bid, but at least they go into the proposal informed - and you fulfilled your obligation to be forthright with them. 
Full Charge.  Then it’s all out as you give it your all to win despite the obvious challenges.  But, review the risks frequently with the client and keep them handy for the proposal Lessons Learned and the win announcement lessons learned.