If we had to pick one thing to change that would have the most impact on an organization’s ability to win, it would be how they approach bid/no bid decisions. If you think of them as just being about deciding whether to bid, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity, because they can have a much greater impact on how you bid, than just on if you bid.
- Do you know what percentage of bids you drop at each stage or do you never drop anything?
- Do the things you bid reinforce your strategic plans or ignore them?
- Do you arrive at RFP release with an information advantage or just knowing what’s in the announcement?
- Are you tracking metrics that can quantify what’s driving your win rate? Or are you just assuming that conventional wisdom applies to your circumstances?
- Do leads go immediately into your tracking system? Or do you sit on them until you know you’re going to pursue them before you make them “official?”
- Do you put every lead you can find into your tracking system, no matter how weak or unqualified they are, to boost your numbers?
- Can you articulate what it will take to win before you start the proposal, or do you just base it on what is in the RFP?
- Do you know your win strategies and themes before you start the proposal? Or do you struggle to define your win strategies and themes during the proposal?
- Do you have a bid/no bid decision, or a bid/no bid process that defines standards and has steps, goals, and criteria as well as reviews?
All of these problems are made worse by an ineffective bid/no bid process. It doesn’t even have to be broken. A weakness on any one of these issues can be addressed by improving how you approach your bid/no bid decision process. Another way of saying this is that you can improve you win rate by focusing on your bid/no bid decision process.
If you already have a bid/no bid process, then you might want to add, “Has it become watered down over time by people who have learned how to game the system, or by people who just want to be nice and get along rather than make tough decisions?” And, “Is it driven primarily by financial considerations, or is it driven by the need to discover what it will take to win?”
A lot of people assume that a bid/no bid process boosts win rates by dropping the low probability pursuits. While this is true, the real way that the bid/no bid process boosts win rates is by making people do the right things to position the company to win. You can change the behavior of people by changing the bid/no bid process.
Readiness Reviews give you a simple structure and approach to implement a bid/no bid process that is strategic and positions you to win the proposals that you do decide to bid.
By paying careful attention to the bid/no bid process, you can set the stage for continuous improvement in your win rate, and do it through tiny steps instead of a major overhaul.