I have been a line manager for bid teams across four different industries and worked for many others over more years than I’d care to remember. If anyone should have a clear and definitive perspective on how to measure a bid team’s success it would be me, right?
And yet, and yet, and yet…
It’s far from easy to put hand on heart and say: “This is how I measure success.” There are so many variables. Here are a few off the top of my head:
- The people in the bid team and what motivates them
- The structure and status of the bid team within the business
- What the organisation is trying to achieve (people growth, financial growth)
- Setting up to sell/acquire
- Strategic intent (e.g., service change, growth, reduction, etc)
- RAG (retain, acquire, grow) of client(s)
- Product/service mix
- Client/sector mix
Having said that, there’s one magic metric I do believe in – win rate. Definitely measure win rate for deals closed – not those open ones that drag on and skew the data. Ditch those.
Include everything the bid team is supporting whether proactive, reactive, formal, informal, full or light support. Remember this is a team sport; don’t target individuals. Also ensure there is enough metadata to measure a few other things such as:
- Win rate by sales team/sector/size of client/individual
- Time spent on the bid (by the bid team and by other contributors if possible)
- Quality score
- Customer comments
- What steps were missed (e.g., kick-off meeting, strategy review, pre-planning, lessons learnt)
(We convince ourselves we do all this for every bid but let’s be honest, we don’t!)
I used to compile simple, quarterly one pagers for each team using the bid services (sales team), a consolidated one for my boss and other stakeholders (like legal) and then ad-hoc ones to help me with other things. I’d use win rate at a granular level to tweak qualification, manage resources, justify approach, and discuss upcoming deals with the sales teams.
It should go without saying that quality and win rate are closely related. You’ll have different strengths and preferences within the team, with individual personalities bringing individual insights. This is gold. You want them to learn from each other, even when they’re not directly involved on the same projects. Every month I expected colleagues to read one bid from someone else on the team and score it as a percentage. This provided me with a useful quality audit to set increased quality targets annually. It also highlighted those team members who were particularly strong in certain areas (writing, cover design, graphics, document management).
Bid and sales teams must be friends!
You simply must know what the sales team are up to! If you head the bid team it’s your responsibility to know what’s in their pipeline and how you are going to support them. If the bid team doesn’t win the work, the sales team have nothing to sell so we need to work together to help them. Use all that rich data I mentioned above. And work backwards. Find out how much they need to achieve and if that’s new business, retained or a mixture. What’s the average deal size? How many will it take to fill the funnel based on their actual win rate? Is it achievable (because you know how long each deal takes) with the resources available? If not can you create another above-the-average outlier deal? A positive relationship with your sales leaders allows you to work together on this analysis, keeping you all focused and aligned. All it takes is the one thing nobody has enough of: time. Find it.
Show me the money
Bid teams work in a high-pressure, commercial environment. It’s competitive; there’s no getting away from it. It’s all about winning after all. Financial rewards are important when you consider the value of a good bid team to a company that lives or dies by the deals it wins. And that means money, of course. I’m still asked whether I believe in targets and commission for bid teams. And I still say absolutely not. When a big deal lands and the salesperson gets a big bonus, the bid team deserves more than a bottle of Rioja (if they’re lucky).
Bid teams should be paid well, commensurate with their importance to an organisation. As far as remuneration goes, be fair. That means pay your team a good and appropriate salary in the first place (much more than the sales basic). Reward the whole team with bonuses based on organisational targets. Expense their meals if working late (sure, working late isn’t right but it’s sometimes unavoidable) and be aware of things like time off in lieu. Show them you care.
What goes around comes around. I occasionally took my whole team for breakfast. No strings. Just as a thank you and a chance to talk outside the office environment. Sometimes you just can’t beat tea and chocolate, can you? Little things can make a big difference.
This article was written by Kat Wyon.
Kat is the Research Director for Strategic Proposals. Having set up bid teams and worked across Telecomms, IT, Financial Services and Service Management, she is experienced in the world of sales and bidding across multiple sectors.
Kat has successfully defined and implemented best practice processes whilst being responsible for recruitment, management and motivation of staff within bid teams. She has driven the transformation of teams with the ability to create a mission statement for the team and strategically deliver against that mission.