We’ve been discussing the importance and benefits of building diverse teams for years – both in the bidding profession and in the proposed teams within our bids. But when it comes to experience, it’s regularly seen as the exception, i.e. ‘The more years of experience the candidate has in our industry, the better they will be.’
Firstly, this definitely isn’t guaranteed. But more importantly, what might you be sacrificing by building a bid team who all have the majority of their experience in your industry? One of my favourite quotes is by Henry Ford, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
I have moved into different sectors throughout my bid and proposal career and hired people from alternative industries into my teams. And I’m here to say there are some fantastic benefits in having a bid team that has experience from a variety of industries.
When leveraged effectively, you can take the very best ideas from multiple industries to place you at the forefront of bidding in your market.
Now I’ll admit there are two key potential challenges for bid professionals who move to a new industry, and for the bid team they move into.
- Subject knowledge: Going into a new industry requires effort in learning more about the subject matter and in how the industry may bid differently.
For example, Construction proposals can easily be 250 pages but Professional Services proposals may only be 20 pages. It’s important to allocate time to gain understanding and make adjustments to ways of working, and to ensure the most effective information and win strategies are conveyed in the most succinct way.
|As a manager/team leader, consider ways to breakdown the most important information such as creating Bidding 101 guides and having a library of best practice bid examples available.||As an individual, consider researching the topic area and asking for visibility of bids that have been and are being submitted. The more bids you get oversight of, the more comfortable you’ll feel in knowing what the business expects.|
- Time to get up to speed: It’s less easy to hit the ground running when someone doesn’t have the new role’s industry experience. This might mean you’ll need to allow for some extra time to settle in, both as an individual and within the team. Jumping onto a bid in the first week might not be the best option.
|As a manager/team leader, consider using shadowing and team buddies to enable on the job learning and a safe space to ask questions. This also allows you to have a helping hand on live opportunities without putting pressure on a new starter and reduces the risk of inaccuracies and errors.||As an individual, ask any questions you have and let your manager know if you’re not quite ready to tackle a bid. Also, try to accept that you won’t feel as confident in the subject knowledge as quickly as you’d like to be. It’s the same for us all – don’t put pressure on having to know everything straight away!|
There are many benefits for individuals and the team when creating a bid team with diverse experience. Here are just a few:
|Improved ways of working through different bid processes and approaches||Sharing innovative solution ideas that are being created by other industries||Bringing new perspectives to the table, challenging the norm and offering new suggestions|
|Leveraging lessons from other bid teams who are more established and may target more elements of the bid lifecycle||Suggestions on alternative ideas for presentation such as layout, formatting and templates (such as microsites and interactive documents)||Pushing outside of your comfort zone (as a team and an individual) through trying new things|
|Becoming more adaptable and flexible, helping to navigate change and respond to challenges||Deeper insight into topics of interest in other industries that you might be bidding to||Better understanding of bidding trends, seeing how proposals are changing, and understanding new areas of focus|
Finally, some top tips for getting the most out of diversity of industry within bid teams:
1. Be open to creating a team with a variety of backgrounds, and consider this when developing job descriptions and choosing candidates to interview.
2. When inducting new staff from alternative industries, plan in time for them to learn and understand their new market, and ensure they have the right resources to hand.
3. Create a safe space to receive suggested new ideas – this will enable you to truly reap the benefits of a team with a diverse bidding background.
1. Don’t be afraid of applying for roles in a new industry. Think about all of your transferable skills and remember you’re there to be the ‘bidding expert’ not the technical expert.
2. When joining a new industry, be patient with yourself – you won’t be able to know everything straight away! Take time to read examples and pay attention to how other members of your team work.
3. Ask questions! Ask your team, your manager, and the teams you work with – continuously make the effort to learn about the subject matter.
This article was written by Charlotte Rees.
Charlotte has worked in the bidding profession for nearly a decade, starting her journey as a bid and proposals apprentice for an engineering company. She has worked across several industries including IT services, facilities management and construction, and is currently Head of Bids, working within professional services. In 2018, Charlotte founded the Wellbeing and Inclusion in Bids and Proposals (WIBAP) community to target gender inequality within the profession and provide a space to share experiences and overcome the challenges we all face on a regular basis.