Evolution of the Species

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“Natural Selection, as we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action.” – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

If our profession is to evolve in 2019, then will it be something we instigate or something forced upon us by circumstance? Natural selection is, after all, brutally cruel. It’s born of conditions that test the resilience and adaptability of a species. The strong live; the weak die. How then do we account for things that should have died out long ago? Like the salesperson who thinks that ‘USP’ is some sort of plug socket on a computer, or the procurement manager who thinks that 24 hours is an acceptable turnaround time for an RFP response, or the bid manager who thinks that late-night pizza is an acceptable excuse for poor planning? They exist because we tolerate them – placing them into a safari park of bidding freak-shows where they roar and we smile uncomfortably while holding a bag of peanuts.

I propose that the best way for our profession to evolve is for us to ruthlessly exploit opportunities that arise in our working environment. The biggest one that I see right now? It’s huge. An opportunity that could finally end the ‘us and them’ conflict between Bidders and Sales.

Think for a moment about your relationships with sales colleagues. Are you the honest broker, protecting your company’s reputational and commercial assets while Sales seeks to ‘trash’ the deal by accepting unprofitable or excessively risky terms? Do you have to tolerate lazy, clueless, good-for-nothing salespeople who are obsessed with their commission and blind to the efforts made by your wonderful, diligent, hard-working, super-skilled, passionate and professional bid team? Beware the clichés. Put yourself in their position. What’s causing their behaviour? How could you help them and, in doing so, help yourself?

A different lens provides a different perspective, especially when you have more information upon which to base your stance. For example (and here’s the big opportunity for us) do you know that there’s a crisis happening globally regarding the training, development and provision of skilled salespeople? Sales consulting firm Miller Heiman published a paper about it this year, citing increasing market competitiveness (and thus pressure to sell) as the reason why new salespeople don’t get enough time to learn, practise and master their skills. This increases the demands placed upon more experienced and capable salespeople, who are expected to fill the gaps. So, it’s pressured at the bottom and even more so at the top.

The opportunity for us? Through better teamwork and by redefining our roles, we could let Sales focus on lead generation and relationship building while we take responsibility for capturing opportunities. They’d have more time to master a reduced skillset while we could crack on with winning the deal. Sure, we might need to learn new skills, but we’d be growing into the void and seizing the opportunity. It would potentially lead to the biggest win-win situation in the history of bidding.

Capture the opportunity, for our evolution.

This article was written by Nigel Hudson.

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