Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

RFPs: Bid/No-Bid decision | Start with the client

 November 27, 2012
by Paul Heron

A couple of weeks ago we recommended putting your bid/no-bid criteria for bid proposals into a consistent, shareable framework. This standardizes how you decide whether or not to bid and gives you information to adjust over time, based on your experience.

The goal is to optimize your win rate, given your resources.

In the next few weeks, we’ll look at specific criteria in these four categories:

  • Client and relationship
  • Project characteristics
  • Market and competition
  • Internal factors

As a wrap-up to the series, we’ll share some best practices and a framework you can adapt to your own bid/no-bid criteria.


Step One: Always start with the client

1. What do you know about this client? The chances of winning an RFP that just shows up—or appears on a government website—is maybe one in 20. So the first question is: How well do you understand this client’s needs, pain points and business drivers? Can you build a proposal that goes well beyond ticking off the RFP requirements?

2. How well does the client know your team and capabilities? Are you on the client’s radar? Have you worked together in the past? If yes, was that a positive or negative experience? Are there client decision makers who will advocate for you? On the flip side, do you have client detractors?

3. How good is your fit with the client? Do you share similar values? Does the client run a fair and transparent evaluation process? What’s the prospect for repeat business? 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 client criteria will depend on your situation.

You may have a robust thought leadership presence that attracts unsolicited bid requests from prospects who have been following your company for some time and know more about you than you do about them.

You may receive requests from clients happy to provide enough additional information about their needs to make you comfortable bidding, even if you have never been in contact before.

These and other factors will affect the weighting of client factors in your framework.

What client criteria do you use?

Do you have a formal or informal bid/no-bid framework? What factors do you consider and why?

In two weeks we’ll look at project characteristics and how they can influence your process and decision.

Illustration credit

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




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