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Win-loss review analyses

 October 31, 2017
by Paul Heron

Recent posts have focused on win-loss reviews, including structuring the process, conducting interviews and win-loss review reporting.

Companies conducting large numbers of reviews per year should also consider using win loss analysis to aggregate review data to see patterns and trends in bid response performance. This post will show you how to get started.

Add header information

Header information will determine how you can sort bids to see what’s happening. In mathematical terms, header items are independent variables.

Consider all the parameters against which you want to analyse results and add them to your review format, using letter or number codes. Examples of common header items include:

  • Bid review tracking number (if used)
  • Bid/No bid decision score (if known)
  • Result (win or loss)
  • Winner
  • Incumbent
  • Product category
  • Sales territory
  • Client type (e.g. by industrial category)
  • Pre-RFP sales contact
  • Role (if any) in shaping the RFP
  • Prospect is/is not a current client

Deciding on header items is an important step with long-term consequences.

While you can always add new items later, you will only be able to use those new items to analyse future bids—unless you go back to reconstruct and enter historic data.

Add quantitative questions to each section

For each of the interview areas (see this post on win-loss review basics), add a question that can be scored numerically. For example, to the questions on responsiveness, add the following (or a similar) question:

  •  “Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, how well did XYZ Co. demonstrate it understood your needs?”

You can also ask:

  • IF A WIN: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the next closest bidder on responsiveness?”
  • IF A LOSS: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the winning bidder on responsiveness?”

To obtain high quality responses, ask your quantitative questions at the end of each section, rather than grouping them as a separate set of questions.

Assemble the review data and analyse

Input the header information and quantitative responses to a database or Excel spreadsheet. Over time you will be able to answer questions such as:

  • How does pre-RFP sales contact affect our win rate?
  • What is our responsiveness score on winning bids vs. losses?
  • Does our loss rate as incumbent vary by territory?

Of course the data you track and the questions you ask will depend on your business.


Need help understanding your bid performance?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss review reporting

 October 24, 2017
by Paul Heron

Last week we posted on planning and conducting internal and external win-loss interviews. This week, we’ll look at reporting the feedback.

A brief, easy-to-follow report is more likely to get read by senior managers and executives. Structuring, formatting and writing for reader efficiency are especially important if you report on two or more win-loss reviews per month.

Develop a report format

Build your report around the interview guide. Set out each question in bold face or italics, followed by a summary of the interviewee’s response. Keep these summaries very brief for all but prospect comments significant to the outcome.

Wherever possible, include direct quotes. Many senior executives have little direct client contact and are eager for any chance to hear the “voice of the customer.” Direct quotes that align with the response summaries and that “ring true” (that is, actually sound like a person speaking) will help your reports get attention.

Open with a summary

Begin each report with an overall summary of the interview. Explain in one or two short paragraphs why you won or lost the opportunity. Lead with the most important point.

Busy reviewers may only read the summary. Therefore, follow the opening paragraph(s) with three to five bullet points taken from responses that support your summary. Include the question reference for each bullet point, in case the reader wants to investigate further.

Take care to ensure your summary is balanced—that it accurately reflects the prospect’s overall message and doesn’t give undue weight to some aspect that may have impressed you or the interviewer.

Decide whether to include internal interview findings

Some companies include a brief section highlighting any disconnects between the internal team’s analysis of a bid loss and the prospect’s feedback. Decide as a team whether this should be part of the report or documented separately as part of a sales discovery and process improvement project.

Next step: Win-loss analyses

Win-loss reviews focus on individual bid opportunities; win-loss analyses reveal patterns and trends in bid wins. Next week we’ll look at how to structure and manage win-loss reviews to enable analysis.


Need help learning from your wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss interviews

 October 17, 2017
by Paul Heron

Last week’s post introduced win-loss reviews and suggested question categories. This post covers planning and conducting the interviews.

Develop an interview guide

For each category (responsiveness, process, etc.) described in last week’s post—and any others you add—draft open-ended questions that invite a candid assessment of your performance. For example: How well did SellerCo demonstrate it understood your requirements?

Limit your questions to four per area, to allow time for follow-up questions. Including too many questions results in rushed, perfunctory interviews. What you want is a thoughtful exchange that produces deeper insights.

Circulate the guide and get buy-in from your bid team and management.

Conduct internal and external interviews

  • Internal interviews: Internal interviews provide insights that make the prospect interview(s) more productive. They also indicate how accurately your team assesses its client relationship and understands the client's needs.

Interview the proposal manager and relationship manager and document their responses to each of your questions. They won’t have the same information as the prospect (see below)—but will provide an internal baseline for comparison.

  • Prospect interview(s): Make appointments with the bid issuer’s decision-maker(s). Request a number and time to call and provide an estimate of the time required. We’ve found a reasonable duration is 45-60 minutes. Emphasize that this is business improvement exercise—not a sales call or an effort to revisit the bid decision. Most issuers recognize they have a responsibility—and that it’s in their interests—to help vendors improve. If a prospect flat-out refuses win-loss interview requests, consider whether it’s worth continuing to bid.

Note: Some issuers have their own disclosure process. If it doesn’t address your information needs, request a separate interview to gather missing information.

Remain neutral, capture quotes

When conducting external interviews, use a neutral tone of voice and refer to your company by name, rather than using “we,” “us” and “our.” This matter-of-fact approach will put interviewees at ease and produce better quality information.

Capture responses as much as possible in the interviewee’s own words. Using direct quotes in your report will give it much more impact and credibility among your company’s leadership.

Consider using a third party

Companies with high bid volumes often use third parties, such as Complex2Clear, to conduct and report on win-loss interviews. A third party interviewer removes any decision-maker reluctance to be candid. Internally, using an unbiased outside contractor may give the results more credibility.


Next week: Win-loss reports and analyses


Need help improving your review and analysis of wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear




Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Win-loss reviews

 October 10, 2017
by Paul Heron

Formal win-loss reviews are an essential part of understanding why you lose (or win) bids—and of learning how to improve your future results.

A robust win-loss review process starts with a comprehensive set of questions.

Address all aspects of the bid

Segment your process to include questions on:

  • Relationship: How deep and wide are your prospect relationships? How effective was your team’s pre-RFP engagement? If the prospect is a current client, which aspects of your current relationship are strongest and weakest?
  • Process: How did your team handle the bid response? Was the solution responsive to the issuer’s strategic drivers and hot button issues? Was your proposal visually appealing and easy to read and understand?
  • Value proposition: How did your offering stack up against the competition? Was it well aligned with the requirements? Did you prove your team could deliver the solution? Were value-added components seen as responsive and well defined?
  • Positioning: In which aspects was your offer superior? Where did competitors score higher? How does the issuer see your company, team and ability to perform relative to your main competitors? How does your relationship compare to other bidders’ relationships?
  • Price: Was your pricing clearly presented? How did your price compare with other bidders? Did other bidders offer bundles or plans that affected the decision? How much higher (or lower) was your price than the successful (or closest competitor)?

Customize and refine your questions

Make your questions as specific as possible and tailor them to suit your business. For example, RFPs in some industries typically include pricing tables for completion. This will affect how you structure questions on price.

Test the questions internally and refine them until they are complete and clear.

Next steps

Once you’re satisfied with your questions, the next step is to plan and execute successful interviews. We’ll explore how to do this in next week’s post.



Need help building an effective win-loss review process?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Bid/no-bid summaries

 October 3, 2017
by Paul Heron

In past posts we’ve stressed the value of structured and transparent bid/no-bid decisions. A consistent process that considers both RFP-specific and strategic issues enables your team to make faster and better decisions.

Speed and quality are both important. Faster decisions save precious time if you decide to bid, and let you move quickly to other priorities if you decide to pass. Better decisions enable you to commit resources to projects with the best chances of success.

Obstacles to good decisions

As powerful as a collaborative and transparent bid decision process can be, in practice it faces two critical risks:

  • Lack of preparation: Typical RFPs run to dozens, if not hundreds, of pages. Participants might skim the document, but may not be familiar enough to contribute fully.
  • Incomplete information: Even if all participants do a good job of reading and thinking about the RFP, a high-quality decision might require more information.

If either or both of these situations occur regularly, bid/no-bid meetings will become frustrating and seen as a waste of time. Bid decisions will be put off, or made without the consideration they deserve. Over time, the process itself may be abandoned.

Decision summaries

Avoid these risks by arming your team with a bid decision summary—especially if the typical RFP is complex and/or the opportunity flow requires multiple bid decision sessions per month.

Assign a bid team member to review the RFP carefully, and then to use our Bid-No-Bid Decision Tool as a guide in creating the summary.  Gather information from internal and external sources (e.g. bid taker info on the issuer’s site), balancing the need for completeness with your understanding of what the decision team will already know.

Consider including at least the following:

Prospect information—from internal records

  • Recent bids submitted to this prospect and results, including price sensitivity if known
  • If the prospect is a current client, any performance, payment or other issues of which the decision team may not be aware

Project information—from the RFP

  • Statement of strategic intent and/or key selection factors
  • Statement of work
  • Compliance highlights, including submission date, page limits, and any unusual requirements
  • Scoring process and framework
  • Response outline if provided
  • RFP page references for above and any other important items

Competitive information—as available

  • Name of incumbent
  • Other bid takers
  • Recent awards to likely bidders
  • Competitor relationships with prospect of which the team may not be aware

Internal factors

  • Current commitments involving the same key individuals and/or subcontractors
  • Potential conflicts

After developing a few summaries, streamline the summary process by developing a template with headings that fit your requirements. Fine tune the level of detail based on observed discussions at bid/no-bid decision meetings.

Provide context, without trying to shape the decision 

Focus on facts when developing summaries. Bid teams often develop strong opinions about the wisdom of bidding on certain types of projects or to certain prospects. Expressing these will diminish the summary’s credibility.

Instead, present all the relevant facts fairly, so the decision team has all the information needed to see the opportunity clearly.


Helping decision makers be efficient will improve their perceptions of the bid/no-bid decision process and willingness to participate—improving bid win rates over time. 

Next week: Win/loss reviews—another tool to improve win rates  



Need help improving bid response processes?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 





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