Ask the Expert

Bid Statistics

Question by: David Wright

Hello Graham,

I’ve recently joined a new organisation as their first Bid Manager, one of my task is to bring some structure to the proposals process and governance. To facilitate this, I’m looking to find some statistics to evidence the following, showing the reduction in success when poor bid / no bid decisions are made:

Success rates when responding to tenders where no previous contact has been made. In our case it is usually Local Authorities.

Success rates where responses are drafted in less time than was allocated by the tender, i.e. coming late to the game.





Hi David,

Apologies for the delayed response. Congratulations on your role – sounds interesting and a chance to build the standards for bidding in your organisation.

Many say that you have a better chance of winning the lottery than winning an opportunity that comes in ‘cold’. Though this is a bit extreme the essence of it is true and so I encourage you to establish a philosophy of qualifying in opportunities that arrive at your door, rather than trying to qualify them out. In other words, someone needs to persuade the business to bid for each opportunity arriving in – whether public or private sector. The viability of bid/no bid decisions can be tested quickly via our qualification mantra:

Is it real?

Do we want it?

Can we do it?

Can we win it?

The Challenger Sale research and book (a must read if you haven’t already done so) shows a change in buyer behaviour that is encouraging tougher qualification. The research shows that buyers go to market 57% of the way through their buying cycle (and that this percentage is increasing). So if you haven’t been influencing your prospect before they send you the RFP or Tender, you are, at best, an “also ran”. The research also shows that more people are typically involved in signing off a buying decision – at least 6 people. So to understand each of them and play your proposal to each of their hot buttons also takes longer. This all points to a lower chance of winning the colder the opportunity, because you simply won’t have time to find all of this out during the tendering process.

Our white paper “How the best win” looks at what it is that makes the organisations with the highest win rates and proposal capabilities stand out from the crowd. You can download this from the SP website in the downloads section: One of the things that the best do to get ahead of the rest, is to have a robust approach to the go/no go process for bid decisions. So it’s proven that one of the characteristics of the best bidding organisations out there, is taking a serious approach to qualification.

I’ve experienced plenty of organisations that have sharpened up their qualification process to remove the unwinnable and focus on the possible. A little anecdote to back this up… a client of mine had a small team of BDMs that wrote a lot of proactive proposals for their prospects. The team pitched about 30 opportunities each month and had a 10% win rate. We looked at the quality of their proposals and helped them build much more visually appealing templates and much more value/benefit led proposal content. We then trained them on how to use the templates. As a result of the training, the team realised that they couldn’t write a tailored proposal unless they had had the time to get to know the prospect. And I advised them not to try and write a proposal if they didn’t get the opportunity to do just that. The impact was they only wrote 19 proposals the month after the training. But they won 9. A much-improved win rate and they actually did less proposal writing. You can imagine how pleased they were at the results!

I hope that helps?

All the best, Graham

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