When asked by Martin to share my thoughts on the current huge growth in the bidding industry, I responded by saying it didn’t surprise me.
Back in the day….
I moved away from marketing management to concentrate on bids and proposals over fifteen years ago. The position was a new and rare one – but my experience (and success) in organising bid responses and designing pitches gave me the appropriate skills. My focus had the positive impact they were looking for.
I was introduced to the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) a year into the role. This served as a platform for the huge transformation in how opportunities were managed, beyond simply turning responses around quickly.
Extensive professional development, industry awards and additions to the team all followed. The ‘Bids Team’ was quickly recognised for providing specialist, valuable expertise and became a vital part of the company’s growth strategy.
Fast forward to 2019. The opportunity to join a market-leading, global professional services business presented itself, again in a newly created position. I had greater experience and over a decade’s commitment to professional development with APMP. I moved on. The result has been the same – a positive impact and success. Our progress has been much quicker, the impact has been greater and the role is much more personally rewarding.
The difference between winning and losing is often very narrow
“The inches we need are everywhere around us. They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch.” Tony D’Amato (played by Al Pacino), Any Given Sunday
The markets most of us operate in today have never been more competitive. Client demands are naturally evolving, as are their sophisticated approaches to market engagement, led by supply chain experts. Additionally, many competitors across all markets are driven by strategies which are committed to professional sales teams, customer centricity, innovation and differentiation.
As a result, the margins between those who are appointed and those who are not (the winners and losers) is often extremely narrow. For me, expert bid and proposal management professionals are an intrinsic part of a successful business growth strategy. Embedding them into the process to increase performance, retain existing clients and win new ones is a no-brainer.
If we build it, they will come
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
The UK bidding industry is unrecognisable from 15 years ago. The role of a bid team continues to grow and is more enriched than ever before. The days of simply co-ordinating submissions and smoothing responses have long gone.
I continue, though, to be surprised when new colleagues in client-facing roles compare the level of support our UK bid team provides with the support received in previous companies (either far less or none at all). It confirms there is still huge scope for people to make a difference.
That scope is represented by the continuing evolution of our bid specialist roles and the recognition of their value in supporting growth. Essentially, this value comes from applying processes that stimulate winning business: challenging people to think like the client and helping bid teams to perform at their best throughout the complete sales cycle.
We deliver value every day through well-structured pre-bid capture programmes, objective opportunity assessment tools, clear response development processes, creative design, coaching, pitch management, undertaking feedbacks, building content management systems, bid team wellbeing and performance analytics. We are also regularly involved with the development of content and presentations, helping senior leaders to articulate internal strategic messages.
I can also say with certainty that the value of our involvement is felt beyond sales teams. For example, the subject matter experts who make positive contributions to winning business gain incredible value from the challenge, coaching and support they receive. They and other stakeholders benefit from our leadership in creating and honing how business-line propositions are articulated and presented in a compelling way. Our UK proposition toolkits, which we have evolved with operational leads over the past three years, are acclaimed as world class by colleagues from across the globe.
The bid industry is a growth industry
The impact of effective bid and presentation teams goes beyond simply increasing win rates. It drives focus and efficiency, stimulates confidence and ambition, and elevates the levels of professionalism experienced by the client at every stage of engagement.
Growth is the natural result. We are involved in three times more opportunities than we were three years ago. Our team is expanding as we prepare to support our company’s European bid teams. Our bid experts are increasing their knowledge and enhancing their value in the company and the industry overall.
The bid industry is a growth industry and rightly so. Long may it continue.
This article was written by Peter McPartland.