Ask the Expert

Win Rates at Scale

Question by: Daniel Trindall

Could you please give me your views on how to increase win rates at scale? We’ve found we can raise win rates in pockets for medium term periods of time, but how do we do so consistently across a large organisation for the long term?


Thank you for the question Dan. That’s a good one. It happens to be a subject we’ve been doing a lot of work on of late with clients of all sizes.

My advice is: you need to be Pigs.

I’d best explain that hadn’t I . . . I get asked fairly regularly by clients to “review some bids and tell us how we can improve”. That’s a bit like asking a doctor what’s wrong with you, but only allowing them to take your temperature. Without understanding the environment you’ve been in, the symptoms you’re feeling and how the symptoms transpired it’s a bit of an uphill battle to determine the causes of the issues.

More often than not the causes that inhibit consistently high win rates at scale are intrinsic, baked into the culture and DNA of the organisation top down. To overcome it requires sponsorship, effort and commitment.

As I’ve begun to articulate recently – your leaders need to decide if they are a Pig or a Chicken when it comes to your work winning approach. The old adage goes – when playing their parts in an English Breakfast – Pigs are committed, Chickens are merely involved. Like Pigs, your leaders need to be committed to the cause.

We’ve found that the biggest determining factor in win rate and the growth trajectory of organisations that have to tender for work is the behaviours and commitment of their leadership. Great leaders enable their business to differentiate, to proactively position well and to only pursue opportunities that it should win. They sponsor a measured approach to targeting the right business, growing accounts and securing deals far before RFP/ITT. And really importantly – they invest in work winning capability, not just employing great proposals people, but also developing their delivery people in winning business. Everyone has to understand the importance of work winning and their part in it. And leaders have to role model positive mature behaviours, consistently applying good governance.

Once your leaders realise the importance and are behind you, we then find a few sub elements tend to fall into place:

  1. In our research we have found a sad fact that the reasons for more than 85% of bid proposal losses through competitive procurement processes are known to the bidder prior to submission. Taking the time and resources to develop and submit a bid proposal is a significant investment for your business. Those resources could be put to use and add value elsewhere. The introduction of a robust bid decision making process is almost always in any business improvement initiative. All high performing organisations focus their efforts on opportunities they will win.
  2. They follow a consistent robust bid process, built on industry best practice, with clear roles and responsibilities. Often this can be based on APMP methodology, but we’d like to think we’ve gone one better with
  3. Their bid process has space within it to drive the development of winning propositions and valuable solutions. Your bids are love letters to the unbeatable value you will create for the clients business.

But how to you make it stick? How do you boil the ocean of raising win rates across a whole business? The 70-20-10 model for learning and development (L&D) is a commonly used formula within the training profession.

The model was created in the 1980’s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro in the US. The model outlined the optimum split of learning consumption, suggesting that individuals obtain knowledge, skills and abilities in their roles through the following mixture of sources:

  • 70 percent from on-the-job experience
  • 20 percent from social sources such as interactions with others
  • 10 percent from formal structured training

Helpfully around the same time we were preparing to launch the bid toolkit in early 2018, Training Industry Inc released an insights report to update the focus and efforts in driving training impact. The overall blend is now closer to what could be called the 55-25-20 model. With higher quality and more impactful methods in live training, huge consumption and availability of online structured content and improved understanding of mentoring and social learning there has been a dramatic shift in the dynamic.

In the last 12 months we have found that leveraging the 55-25-20 model with a mixed economy of interventions and learning methods, organised to build and drive momentum, helps deliver sustained increased win rates at scale. With clients such as Quod, we’ve found that mobilising with live training (or webinars) for bidding ‘champions’ across the business creates the initial hockey stick in bidding understanding, the 20.

We then support that initial wave with ongoing mentoring and coaching of key individuals and deliver ongoing modules as part of their apprentice, graduate and leadership development programmes – enabling social learning and embedding bidding good practice in their DNA. The 25.

Lastly we land an enterprise bid toolkit site within their intranet as their constant online bid process and digital textbook, providing them with a consistent roadmap and governance to follow, with embedded microlearning to refresh or up-skill bid teams right when they need it, on live bids. The 55.

Our clients are averaging more than a 20% increase in win rates and finding the experience of their new measured methodical bidding far less stressful and draining on the business.