Seeing the Bigger Picture

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Performance measurement and management in the bidding phase has always been challenging, with so much of what defines success in winning work taking place upstream or out control of the bid function. And there has always been the old argument of what matters in measurement, e.g., win rates based on volume versus value, etc.

What’s more, decent measurement has often been inhibited by:

  • Poor quality, short-term pipeline data with limited selection of opportunities for pursuit and positioning in advance of tender
  • Sales teams chucking opportunities over the fence last minute, with limited engagement of the bid team
  • Recession and employment market resource constraints driving leadership confidence and behaviour
  • An overpopulated and chaotic framework market, leading to ineffective bidding activity

Where we are working with clients to design their operating models and processes for growth, we encourage them to take a more holistic view – looking to see the bigger picture when it comes to their return on investment in winning work. We tend to follow this approach:

  • Beginning by undertaking a growth maturity modelling exercise, to benchmark the maturity of the business against industry high-performance and best practice, as well as a review against the business development maturity life-cycle model. This provides both a measure in itself that can be retested annually, but also clear pathways to improvement and measurement moving forwards in the detail.
  • Developing an organisational change piece, with a new operating model and set of work winning processes – with measurement baked into the heart of it all, aligned with the success factors outlined in the business plan
  • The operating model clearly earmarks roles and responsibilities for anyone with accountability for growth and their personal measures of success. We bake in a twin-track approach to personal performance measurement, with strategically everyone measured on the overall margin of the business, and tactically on what each individual does to support its achievement. This means the whole organisation is aligned in its pursuit of growth and quality of earnings (not just turnover), with minimal wasted effort and maximised return on investment.
  • Advocating one ‘single version of the truth’ pipeline data repository – whether that is a sophisticated CRM platform, a more basic SharePoint database, or even just one big spreadsheet. For example:
    • We recommend measurement of the input of timely quality data to the pipeline by those accountable be considered at annual appraisals of personal performance (with penalties for lack of action and rewards for timely good quality data)
    • We suggest segmenting pipeline data by whether the opportunities are with existing key clients, prospects highlighted in the business plan or wildcards and if the opportunity has been captured or not positioned for (in B2B or B2G markets, existing key clients provide as much as 80% of turnover, with high levels of negotiation and high win rates). Other pipeline data can also be segmented e.g., if the opportunity is via negotiation, is for a framework itself, a framework direct award submission, framework competitive mini-bids, or open market bidding.
    • We track all leads, including no-bids and why they were deselected to look for trends
  • Implementing the use of data and analytics tools, such as Power BI, for the interrogation of data and analysis of trends. We deploy the tools on the classic measures of volume and value of pipeline per phase of pursuit through the deal funnel and win rates based on volumes and values etc. But we also use the tools to analyse input indicators. These include the time between when a lead was inputted into the pipeline and a bid outcome and compliance with bid process key steps and gateways (such as was storyboarding appropriately undertaken and reviews of content held)
  • Drive for client feedback on every proposal or bid, ideally face to face, with a simple net promoter based scorecard for clients to complete to provide insights on ways to improve
  • Attempting to undertake feedback surveys of bid team members and lessons learned reviews on every bid, looking for feedback on trends. These help to determine if the bid process needs updating or if people in the business need development as well as substitution and client or market-driven trends

Sure, we measure the small stuff, getting into the detail of win rates per segment and type of deal or bid, and leverage data incrementally to improve. But by being aligned top to bottom and focused together as one growth-generating function, margin is above all else.

This article was written by Jeremy Brim.

Jeremy works with leadership teams and business owners as a consultant and advisor to plan and deliver sustainable growth through analysis and interventions across the sales cycle. Jeremy has also taken on leadership of the Bid Toolkit, bringing with him a wealth of bidding knowledge and desire to help businesses of all sizes improve their win rates.

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