Developing a Win Strategy – The Pivotal Moment

Home / Bidding Quarterly / Developing a Win Strategy – The Pivotal Moment


Developing a compelling, differentiated win strategy is the pivotal moment or event in defining the outcome of a bid. Get it right, and you’ll maximise your chances of winning. Get it wrong and you’ll lose, potentially damaging your reputation.

Think about your audience
Firstly, never forget that your pitch is being evaluated and scored by people (not a machine, yet), and people are all different. They see things differently, based on their personal and professional perspective.

Conscious and unconscious bias is also a key factor, both positive and negative, and will influence the outcome.

Cicero, the Greek philosopher, summed it up beautifully and concisely when he said, “If you want to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”
Have that at the forefront of your mind when developing your win strategy.

Fundamentally, you need to understand the customer’s requirement in great detail, as well as what’s driving it, their expected benefits, and their budget.  Understanding their appetite for risk is also critical.

Knowing the competition is equally important, as is understanding their relationship with the key customer contacts, their track record as a supplier to the customer, and their likely approach to winning the business.

All the above should have been done during the Capture Phase. Trying to do it after the ITT or RFP arrives is too late.

The win strategy
At a minimum, your win strategy must be compliant, whereby you can prove that you can meet all your potential customers mandatory and optional requirements. But being compliant is not enough. Compliance requirements apply to all potential suppliers, theoretically resulting in a lot of very similar pitches.

To stand a chance of winning you must be at least ‘compliant plus’, i.e. more than compliant, offering a solution with unique advantages over and above ‘just’ compliance. To truly differentiate your pitch, you need to explore new, innovative options to the potential customer to distance yourself from the competition.

I used this approach with The Halifax Building Society (as it was then) back in 1997/8, and won a five-year, single source supply and services contract worth >£10m pa. The key to winning this deal was our ability to do what Cicero prescribes.  Our win strategy was simple; be compliant, but offer better or cheaper approaches as ‘compliant plus’.  Being one of four incumbents, we had the insights needed to do much of what they wanted more quickly. We called this third option our ‘innovate solution’, described in a two-page management summary – which was the reason we won the business according to the feedback received. And that management summary was written BEFORE the proposal writing started!

In summary
Do everything outlined above in one day, in one room, with everyone who has an opinion on the opportunity. Make sure everyone has a voice, and don’t let one person dominate the process. Consider facilitation if this sounds challenging. Capture everything in a draft management summary and use this to brief everyone involved in the Proposal Phase.  And NEVER forget Cicero, as he’s your best friend in all this.

This article was written by Chris Whyatt.

Chris is the co-founder of the UK APMP, prior to which he founded and led Practical Bid Solutions, and its successor, Get to Great Results. He has worked on major growth initiatives, sales and channel growth, sales turnarounds, must win deals, and sales and bid process improvement.

Back to Foreword