Surviving ‘Snakes and Ladders’ by Not Rolling the Dice

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Surviving ‘Snakes and Ladders’ by Not Rolling the Dice

It’s easy to make good decisions when you’re successfully climbing the ladder of growth with a tailwind of a booming economy. Your leaders can take their pick from the abundance of opportunities, giving themselves time and space to calmly develop relationships and select the best path to meeting your business plan and strategic objectives. But now the economy is a busted flush. As someone put it to me recently – we’re all circling the same toilet. Markets are either experiencing tumbling demand or rocketing competition as government-propelled stimulus projects and programmes become the golden goose everyone wants to land.

So how do bid teams make the best of it while their employers are sliding down the snake of a market depression? Many bid functions will be coming under immense pressure, with panicked leaders grasping for any opportunities they can find – at best gaming, at worst ignoring your bid/no-bid governance to force through as many bids as they can get their hands on.

Now is the time to use our brains, not our brawn. Good bid professionals tend to have high levels of empathy and emotional intelligence, complemented by great analytical skills. It’s time to put them to good use – upstream – and influence the best outcome for your team and the business. Utopia in work winning is a beautifully aligned and professionalised approach to key account management, capture, pursuit and then into bids and proposals – co-creating and solutioning deals with clients and negotiating contracts. But let’s face it, that’s so rare most of us have never seen it. In the real world in most organisations, you may not have the time to deploy full capture but you can make the space to get into the pipeline and turbocharge some pursuits.

Governance levels in most organisations are running at an all-time low, with executives having become more flexible in response to the pandemic. This is a risk for them, but also an opportunity for us as they are more open to new ideas that demonstrate value. You need to land it sensitively, but now is your chance to show your true value and change the game when it comes to bidding in your business.

Right now, in my view, the key to maximising your conversion of the bids you have the capacity to deal with is to get ahead of bid/no-bids; get into the pipeline, research opportunities and drive pre-bid activity to position for it. Block out half a day or use the weekend if you have to; it’s an investment that will pay off. On your own or hopefully with some decision makers, open up the pipeline and score it, prioritising the pursuits where you have the greatest chance based on your existing bid/no-bid criteria, e.g. strength of relationships, ability to deliver, competition or incumbents, and client situation (will they exist, can they pay, etc). Then perhaps take the top five opportunities and deploy a simple accelerated pursuit methodology like this:

  • Get appropriate sponsorship behind you and assign a bid leader now to drive the pursuit
  • Get good quality research in place – fully understand the client, their influencers, the opportunity and the competitive environment
  • Get the best team members on board – go and get buy-in from the best in the business to support and play a part in your pursuit, the solution and eventually the bid team
  • Get the right people in front of the client before the bid lands – never forget that people buy people and what they can do for them. Perhaps hook the client in for a Teams call with something valuable, e.g. a discussion on some thinking or research you have that they don’t (that happens to support your proposition to them)
  • Get entrepreneurial – get working on the solution now, figuring out how you’ll deliver their needs while looking for how you’ll innovate and create more value for the client than your competition. If you can, draw the client in for workshops to test and co-create solutions to their problems or provide some free advice.
  • Get guerrilla marketing going – wind in your marketing function to support the pursuit with aligned campaigns and thought leadership that supports your messaging and challenge them to be smart in how and where you position yourselves

In summary, don’t just roll the dice by bidding everything that comes your way – turn the odds in your favour by being selective, entrepreneurial and smart, looking to influence the outcome you need.

This article was written by Jeremy Brim.

Jeremy works with leadership teams and business owners as a consultant and advisor to plan and deliver sustainable growth through analysis and interventions across the sales cycle. Jeremy has also taken on leadership of the Bid Toolkit, bringing with him a wealth of bidding knowledge and desire to help businesses of all sizes improve their win rates.

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