The Power of Lessons Shared

Home / Bidding Quarterly / The Power of Lessons Shared

The secrets to bidding success? Celebrating and improving.

I asked participants on a recent course whether they’d run a learning review on their last bid. None had. I asked why – and was relieved to hear: “Time”. At least it wasn’t that the team couldn’t face talking to one another…

So, win or lose. In the past, we ran post-mortems or inquests. Someone I trained recently had just been invited to a “bid witch-hunt”. I’m just as (perhaps more) interested in why we won.

Two simple questions to your team:

  • What did we do well – that we should do again on similar bids?
  • Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight, what should we do differently on deals like this in future?

We have a 100-question lessons learned checklist, of course, but those two simple questions unlock so much value so quickly. You could even pose them over SurveyMonkey or Google Docs.

And then: be absolutely committed to gathering client feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask for a debrief, even if it’s not offered: it’s in their interests that their vendors send them better proposals next time.

When you get in front of them: shut up! Listen to what they want to reveal. And then ask simple, powerful questions: how did our solution/pricing/team/proposal/presentation compare to other bidders?

And the final leg of the lessons learned process: “win/loss” audits. Systematically, away from the heat of the battle, interviewing the team to really get under the skin of what went on – and spotting trends.

Then: this all needs to lead to sharing ideas – and to action. A commercial manager in Romania once memorably told me: “For us, it’s more a case of lessons logged than lessons learned.” Celebrate success and hard work. And refine your aim, to win more, more easily.

This article was written by Jon Williams.

Jon and his team work with clients worldwide to help them establish winning proposal capabilities and to capture major deals. He has built and led numerous bid and proposal centres; managed, reviewed and benchmarked countless proposals; worked in over 35 countries; and trained many thousands of course participants.

Back to Foreword