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Over the last 13 years we’ve observed or been involved in 100s of bids, tenders, pitches and proposals, from a range of organisations across many industries. The beleaguered bid team pour their heart and soul into writing the bid, working late nights and early mornings, often at the expense of their personal and family life. But that’s the wrong thing to focus on; it’s often too late by then. Too many firms over-emphasise the bid document and under-emphasise the relationship with the buyer. You don’t win a bid from behind a computer. The process of winning starts far in advance of this step and the stats seem to back this up.

Most businesses we talk to strive for a win-rate of 75%, ie they’re winning three out of every four pitches they go for. If you were offered this you’d probably take it, wouldn’t you?

Our win-rate is 86%. So what are we doing differently for our clients to hit this rate?

We help our clients to pre-empt the bidding process and tilt the odds of winning in their favour. We do this by front-loading the process, in five steps. We help our clients to:

  1. Nail their value proposition. Without articulating this clearly, the odds of success are against you.
  2. Identify the organisations they want to work with, and the individual buyers in those organisations.
  3. Raise their profile with those buyers and get to know them.
  4. Understand those buyers’ major headaches and put together a proposal for how to overcome them.
  5. Rinse & repeat.

Compare this proactive approach to the typically reactive response of many businesses to RFPs, ITTs and EOIs. Our approach is about playing by your own rules and time-scales, not someone else’s.

So my message to you is this: if the client doesn’t know, like and trust you and your organisation when they issue the tender, your heroic efforts on the bid document are likely to be in vain. The harder you work at the front of the process building great relationships with buyers pre-tender, the more business you’ll win.

Trouble is, most people are poor at building rapport, asking great questions and listening whole-heartedly to the answers, without an agenda. The micro-skills of client relationship building are the biggest business development challenge facing professional services firms today – especially fee-earners who are great technicians but not natural communicators. But that’s for another blog…

To learn more about improving your win-rate, download a free chapter from SJK Consultants Director, Scott Keyser, by clicking here.

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