Sniffing Out the Right Opportunities – Using Technology as Your Qualification Guide Dog

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“What’s the name of your customer’s dog?”

I’ll always remember this as one of the most unusual, seemingly irrelevant, but brilliantly insightful questions asked in a bid qualification review.

What did the dog have to do with it? Well, it was a tiebreaker in a long discussion about whether we bid or no bid. On the one hand, we couldn’t see any evidence that we had influenced the RFP requirements, or a strong capture plan, or a competitive advantage, or indeed any prior knowledge of the opportunity. On the other, the sales lead insisted he had a really close relationship with the decision maker and we were definitely going to win it.

That’s the problem with subjective decision making: it’s emotional, intuitive, and biased. Sales feel they’ve invested a lot of effort and they’re under pressure to hit targets. Business leaders don’t want to leave money on the table. Proposal teams are overwhelmed and don’t want to risk lowering their win rate.

We need to make bid decisions more objective with a data-driven approach to qualification. That’s where technology can help. Whether it’s a tracker spreadsheet, a survey tool, CRM, specialised software (I’m currently building custom tools using Notion), or full AI-powered decision support.

Here are some ways technology can help us make better bid decisions:

Automated scoring
One way to be more objective is to break the assessment down into raw numbers. The technology converts sentiments into numbers but the goal is the same: to score incoming RFPs based on pre-defined criteria to highlight and compare strengths and weaknesses.

Most proposal management software has automatic answering functions you can use to get a feel for how closely an RFP matches your capabilities. Don’t try to write your response; you’re just testing critical requirements against your pre-written library of content. The more complete, the more likely you’re a good fit for the RFP – but thresholds will depend on the quality and comprehensiveness of your content.

Past performance analytics
Another option is to use technology to analyse and predict your chances of success based on past opportunity data and historical performance. Need to know your win rate for public sector projects under £50k? No problem. Of course, past performance doesn’t guarantee future success, but it sets a baseline for new opportunities.

If you want clearer decision making based on data, not blind optimism and vested interests, it’s time to lose the crystal ball and end the emotional bun fights. Technology helps us make smarter bid decisions and focus resources on the most winnable opportunities. It’s not the decision maker because the emotional/intuitive elements of human decisions are still vital. But it can be an objective guide, a neutral advisor, and a voice of reason.


This article was written by Darrell Woodward.

Darrell Woodward is an award-winning consultant helping organisations unleash the full power of proposal automation to win more business faster. As a Bid Geek and coffee lover, he believes technology in bidding is about combining the right blend of content beans – compelling narratives, tailored solutions, and persuasive arguments – and the expertise of bidding baristas to craft the perfect proposal brew.

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