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Bid Proposals | Bid/no-bid decision—the opportunity

 July 21, 2015
by Paul Heron

The last two posts have been about capture planning and engaging prospects. This week and next we’ll revisit the bid/no-bid decision. Making sound decisions quickly will save time you can put into the proposal—or into other opportunities if you decide not to bid.

We recommend dividing the decision making process into four steps, each corresponding to a key factor: client, project, competitive, and internal. This post looks at steps one and two.

Step 1: Start with the client

  • What do you know about this client? You have about one chance in 20 of winning an RFP you find at random. So ask: How well do you understand this prospect’s needs, pain points and business drivers? Can you build a proposal that goes well beyond ticking off the RFP requirements?
  • Does the prospect know your team and capabilities? Have you worked together in the past? If yes, was that a positive or negative experience? Will any prospect decision makers advocate for you? On the flip side, do you have prospect detractors?
  • How good is your fit with the prospect? Do you share similar values? Is the evaluation process fair and transparent? Do they appreciate value or is price the overriding factor? Do they have a reputation for suing or not paying contractors?

How you apply these prospect criteria will depend on your situation. You may have a strong industry presence that attracts RFPs from new prospects interested in working with you. Private sector companies may be willing to provide additional information to make you more comfortable submitting a bid.

Step 2: Evaluate the Project

  • What do you know about this project? What do you know beyond what’s in the RFP? Have you completed similar projects, perhaps for similar clients in the past? Is this a project you’ve discussed with the prospect and helped to plan? Or (the ideal situation) did you have a hand in shaping the RFP?
  • What about profitability and future potential? Given your knowledge of the prospect and this project, how much profit and potential is at stake? Is this a marginally profitable project with little or no future potential—or can you see high profitability and solid potential for future business?
  • How challenging is the project? Are you unsure of the challenges and demands involved? If you understand the challenges, can you meet them? Beyond being confident, can you add significant value, because of your experience and expertise?

Beware of unfamiliar territory

Your chances of winning a bid that just shows up is maybe one in 20—and far less if you know little beyond what’s in the RFP about either the prospect or the project. If you do win, you may find the requirements are much heavier than you expected.

Next week—assessing your competition and your capacity.


Need help making fast and accurate bid/no-bid decisions?

Contact Complex2Clear



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