“Of course we should measure success! Otherwise, what’s the f*****g point?”

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Now that I’ve got your attention, let me explain.

We all need targets in life. Most of the time we don’t even realise we’re setting them. Simply arranging a coffee with a friend at quarter past ten creates a target. (Who has that friend who’s always late? Annoying, isn’t it?) But in the white heat of business, targets are there for a reason. Organisations must be seen to be growing. There’s no resting on laurels, is there? If you have a great year, you can’t relax and celebrate for long because the world is watching and expecting you to have an even better one next year. Which means someone has to set targets and someone else has to hit them.

It’s that simple, really. These targets don’t necessarily have to be about the bottom line, either. You might be looking for improvements in behaviour, or reducing your carbon footprint, or increasing inclusivity…all kinds of things for which you can give yourself a target against which to measure yourself. It’s the simplest way to confirm you’re heading in the right direction and succeeding in whatever achievements you’ve set.

Here, of course, we’re talking about our experience in the bid world. I’ve spent many years working with bid/proposal professionals and I can assure you they were/are a competitive bunch. Let’s not forget we work in a field called ‘work winning’. There’s literally no prize for coming second! But you can’t win ‘em all, so when it comes to measuring success, I like to look at four separate areas.

Win rate

Without question, you cannot ignore win rate when quantifying your team’s success. (And I’d like to stress that this is all about your team, not the individual. Bids and proposals require collaboration and ‘teamwork makes the dream work’.) How many bids did you win? And how many did you expect to win? How many of those wins were unexpected, and the result of particularly good work from your team? If your reward structure allows it, set a target and a stretch target that will link to a higher reward or perhaps an additional bonus for your team. And be honest. We know sometimes your organisation might override your no-bid recommendation for strategic reasons (I know, right?) so don’t include these in your appraisals.


You can’t ignore the value of quality. Of course not. A high-quality response to a bid you didn’t win will have impressed the evaluators. They’ll remember. If you want to be known as a company with high standards, you’ll need to find ways of measuring the quality of your work. I recommend:

  • Proposal reviews – review a percentage of each individual’s proposals at a regularity that works – half-yearly would be my suggestion (you’d perhaps review more regularly for a newer member of staff)
  • Evaluation scores – this won’t be available (or as transparent) in the private sector but scoring feedback should always be received on public sector bids. This can be a factor that feeds into the overall proposal review
  • Client debrief – there’s nothing better than hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth! Comparing the quality of your submission against the competition is one area you can question in a debrief, providing essential feedback to the individuals involved


It’s a bit of a cliché, but you need everyone in the boat pulling together. All organisations will have their own processes and outlooks, and they’ll all have specific behaviours expected of their people. You need to know whether employees are behaving as you want them to and that they live up to the values expected of them. This can be seen as subjective so requires tangible evidence – of positive behaviours to celebrate and of any areas for improvement. This can be at individual or team level or both, to encourage working together to achieve common goals across your team.

360-degree feedback – firstly, this needs to be ‘bought into’ within your organisation. Otherwise, people won’t make the effort to contribute. Agree the areas you’ll discuss and the set of questions to be asked with your team. Share these in advance with key stakeholders in your business so they know what to expect to be asked should they be approached for the feedback. Then jointly agree the individuals to interview separately with each team member so everything is transparent and fair and seen as a positive exercise for development.

In our business, we need targets. We thrive on them; they keep us ambitious. We want to succeed. If we don’t measure success then…what are we even doing here?

This article was written by Lorraine Baird.

Lorraine specialises in helping organisations to win – evidenced by her personal win rate of over 85%. She’s recognised for equipping bid teams with the right skills and tools to produce winning proposals and pitches for their organisations. Formerly heading up the bid team at Aviva, Lorraine’s career in sales and bidding spans over 20 years. Lorraine is qualified at the highest level of certification in the profession – APMP Professional – and also recently attained the new APMP Capture Practitioner certification.

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