Assuming that bidding will consume scarce resources (nearly always the case), be sure to assess your competition before making a decision.
Use these questions to start your thinking:
Are you up against an incumbent? If this is a renewal, is the incumbent bidding? If yes, is the client genuinely looking to change suppliers, or simply fulfilling a requirement to issue an RFP? How well has the incumbent performed on the current contract? In this post, we talk about why incumbents often lose renewal competitions.
Are you competitive? Do you know what other bidders are bringing to the table? In many sectors (telecom is a good example) disruptive or next-generation technologies can offer huge cost savings in the right situations. Is this one of those situations, and can you be competitive?
Does a decision maker or influencer favour a competitor? Favouritism could be based on a past association or a current business relationship unrelated to the current RFP. If another bidder is favoured, how well does the RFP process promote fairness?
Are there any low-ball competitors? Every industry has one or more players who consistently underbid everyone else. These companies may be desperate for a win, or they may not fully understand the RFP or their own costs. The prospect of a very low competitive quote may affect your appetite and/or the way you present your bid. For example, you could provide a highly transparent pricing model to raise doubts about the low quote.
Use competitive factors to fine-tune your decision
Competitive factors are seldom showstoppers, but they can help you prioritize RFP opportunities. Faced with going head-to head against a popular incumbent or a competitor with a cheaper and more efficient technical solution, investing effort in another bid will likely yield higher returns.
Next week: Internal factors in the bid/no-bid decision process