With tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs, why do businesses continue to make the same simple but costly mistakes when it comes to developing tenders and proposals?
Of course there are a number of contributing factors but at the end of the day the real no BS answer is…sometimes they win! It sounds stupid but these occasional successes are exactly what is holding businesses back from being truly successful.
With a win rate of 0% you have nowhere to hide. You are clearly doing something wrong. Your approach is broken and needs to be fixed. But a win rate of 25% leaves room for all kinds of BS excuses not to change. “One in four is standard for this industry,” “this one was all about price” and “they just went to tender to keep the incumbent honest” is just the beginning.
Below are the seven simple but costly mistakes I commonly see businesses make. No matter whether you have a win rate of 10% or 80%, if you are guilty of making one of these deadly mistakes you could be forgoing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional revenue.
Deadly Mistake #1 – Not Adequately Qualifying Opportunities
Every submission you prepare and submit costs you something, from the cost of your time spent strategizing and writing, to reputational costs associated with submitting a tender or proposal that falls short of the Target’s expectations. By adopting a formal Opportunity qualification process, you can consistently assess each Opportunity’s likelihood of success before committing your time and resources to the bid.
Deadly Mistake #2 – Not Solution Selling
The temptation to sell a product or service in the same generic way in each and every submission is simply too strong for many would-be tenderers. Although this shortcut saves time and effort, it also greatly reduces win-probability. Each Target is different; they have different requirements, different pain points, and different budgetary allowances, all of which impact their procurement decision. It is up to you to identify and assess each of these variables and to then develop a customized value proposition that addresses them.
Deadly Mistake #3 – Not Working to a Plan
When developing a tender or proposal, you should always work to a plan. A good plan will allow you to:
- Clearly set out the structure and components of your submission: allowing preliminary assessment and refinement before you begin writing.
- Manage any contributors assisting with content: ensuring the right content is being provided by the right people.
- Effectively project manage the response once writing has begun: keeping your submission on track so you meet the deadline without the need for “all-nighters.”
Deadly Mistake #4 – A Lack of Consistent Messaging Throughout Submission Sections
Unless your approach includes a clear, consistent writing style and method for introducing messages and themes, when finished, your submission could resemble a patchwork quilt; a bunch of different pieces sewn together. For this reason it is crucial that the messages you present throughout every section of your tender or proposal are consistent and evolve logically as the reader progresses.
Deadly Mistake #5 – Not Embracing Alternative Fee Approaches
Restricting your submission to include only traditional fee approaches, such as lump sums or hourly rates, can leave you exposed to your competitors’ more innovative fee solutions. Coupled with a good understanding of your Target, the use of alternative fee arrangements allows you to offer a solution most closely aligned to your Target’s requirements.
Deadly Mistake #6 – Not Tracking Your Win Rate and Capture Ratio
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it! It is crucial to keep a record of every tender and proposal you submit. Only by tracking the outcome and potential revenue of each Opportunity are you able to calculate your win rate and capture ratio; the two “must haves” for measuring and tracking success.
Deadly Mistake #7 – Ignoring Pre-tender Activities
Two factors that significantly influence your probability of winning a tender or proposal are:
- Your relationship with your Target’s Decision Makers and Influencers.
- Your understanding of your Target’s strategic direction, challenges and wants.
Developing each of these is crucial in order to maximise win-probability. But of course these actions need to occur during the pre-tender phase before the request documents have been officially released. Once the tender phase has begun it is already too late.
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