A key component of any successful sales and business development team is a highly skilled bid team (and / or a proposal team, a pitch team, or tender team – the naming variations and permutations are vast).
It is essential that there is shared understanding within your business about what the bid team needs to deliver as part of the bid lifecycle. It’s difficult to get industry-wide agreement on exactly what ‘bid management’ is. The list of responsibilities varies by business almost as much as the titles within our profession (over 300 titles to describe 6 core roles in the last salary survey).
In some ways, it’s irrelevant what bid management should be; what’s more important is the effectiveness of the agreed service it delivers. In our opinion, bid management should proactively bring together all the core stakeholders and manage them effectively and efficiently through every stage of the bid lifecycle, maximising both individual and team performance. It needs to put the business in the strongest possible position to secure the business it is bidding for, whilst implementing appropriate governance and managing all associated risks.
We often get asked ‘what is the optimal size for a bid team?’ In essence, there is no ‘right’ size for a bid team. In our experience, bid teams need to scale to suit the demands of the sales pipeline; and scale quickly. Of course, larger organisations will always have a solid pipeline of work and can retain reasonably large teams of permanent staff. They are generally better able to absorb periods of high tender activity. SMEs on the other hand can quickly become overwhelmed by an influx of tenders and this potentially limits their chances of success.
The importance of having a rigorous and respected qualification process early in the bid lifecycle cannot be overstated; it’s at this stage that any requirements for additional resource to support the bid team should be clearly outlined and supported / signed-off by management.
Why is bid management and the bid team needed?
Increasingly, bids and proposals are becoming an essential requirement for organisations to conduct business successfully and fairly, particularly in the public sector, where transactions have to be transparent and auditable. A bid allows companies to openly compete for work. The bid not only allows companies to compete on an equal playing field, but also allows the client to have a full understanding of the service and commitment they are going to receive.
A bid can take on many forms. It can be as simple as a bid for an item on eBay, it can be a face to face negotiation at a market stall, or it can be an explanation or proposal, in document form, of the services or products offered at an estimated cost to a company. The most important thing to remember is that there are many interchangeable terms that describe a bid. They include: Proposal; RFP; Tender; Pursuit; Campaign; Submission; RFI; PQQ; RFQ; Grant Submission; Pitch; and many more.
The bid is usually submitted as a printed or electronic document. It includes key points related to the customers’ requirements including details like time frame for completion, total cost and materials needed to complete the job. Depending on the customers’ requirements, the bid response could be 10 pages or 10,000 pages in length.
The bid will often include several key sections. Typically the submitted document will start with an executive or management summary, which should be used to justify why the bidder should be selected for the requirement. This will usually be followed by a solution overview and a commercial proposition. Finally, the detailed requirements will be dealt with in numerical order – often dictated by the clients tender (RFP, ITT, etc). Appendices may include testimonials, company accounts, case studies and product information.
After the bid has been written; it must be reviewed (red team), proofread and approved as a final document, before being submitted to the client. Proofreading is an essential step because many bids / proposals are rejected for being incomplete or mentioning the competitions name by mistake!
A detailed bid will outline all time frames, estimated costs and any other information regarding the service and agreed outcome. The final document acts as a contractual agreement for the client, providing them with assurance for, what can often be, multi-million pound deals.
Who should be in the bid team?
The bid team should include all the skills and knowledge required to professionally respond to your client’s requirements. This could be just one person in an SME or in larger organisations, bid teams may have over 100 people involved.
There are a number of core roles within the bid team and these are listed below. In addition, most bids typically have representatives from Finance, Marketing, Legal, Commercial, and Product / Service Expertise.
Core roles typically in the bid team:
Bid Manager: Takes responsibility for managing the opportunity through the full Bid Lifecycle.
Subject Matter Experts: Typically responsible for designing the solution that meets / exceeds the client’s requirements.
Proposal Manager: The Proposal Manager will co-ordinate and produce the proposal (RFI, ITT, RFP, Tender, etc.) response document.
Bid Writers: Produce professionally written proposal content that clearly articulates the organisations value proposition.
Depending on the size of the organisation, bid teams may also have dedicated Document Managers and Graphics Specialists. For more detail on core roles please click here.
Where should the bid team be located?
The bid team should typically be co-located with all the key stakeholders and the sales team leading the bid. We believe a ‘war-room’ environment produces the strongest bid responses and also keeps the bid team focussed, motivated, and responsive.
Recruiting a bid team?
If you are looking for immediate help with a large bid, tender or proposal, search our associate directory and pinpoint the exact skills you need to get your deal in to a winning position. If you are currently in a bid team and looking for a new challenge, search our jobs here.