When it comes to bidding for contracts, it’s not simply a case of the more you pitch, the more you will win – in fact, the opposite is often true., according to business development manager Robyn Haydon.
Engineers operate in a very competitive marketplace. Understandably, when your firm’s livelihood depends on bidding for contracts – and winning them – you are under pressure to win as many as you possibly can. However, it’s not simply a case of the more you pitch, the more you will win – in fact, the opposite is often true.
Proposals need insight and people
Energy and enthusiasm are the currency of winning bids. Unfortunately, producing large numbers of proposals spends that currency fast. It’s like feeding a pile of coins into a poker machine – the odds don’t get any better as your cash supply goes down.
Spare a thought for your team, who spend a lot of their lives on site and with clients. For them, proposals are not a nine-to-five job – they’re a ‘five-to-nine’ job. For many engineers, proposals are not even a formal part of their job description.
The pressure to submit back-to-back proposals is creating a kind of “bid sweatshop” where your people equate proposals with paperwork, not an exciting opportunity to win new business. This hurts your chances of winning; it leaves your team burnt out, jaded and disillusioned.
Wins beget wins, losses drag you down
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you’re bidding, but not winning, then something needs to change. Research published in the Harvard Business Review concluded that many managers lack strategic discipline when deciding which new opportunities to pursue, saying that “unless managers screen opportunities against company strategy, they will waste time and effort on peripheral initiatives and deprive the most promising ones of the resources they need to win big.”
Bid less to win more
It is possible to win more tenders just by being more selective, and therefore directing your energy and enthusiasm into bidding for contracts you are best placed to win. This starts by realistically analysing your chances of success according to three different perspectives; internal, external, and opportunity fit. The internal perspective considers how well the opportunity suits you. Is it a good strategic fit for you? Do you want it? Can you bid confidently in the timeframe without risking other projects?
The external perspective considers how well you suit the opportunity. And finally, there’s the opportunity perspective. Can you field a strong team to deliver against expectations?
When you stop the bid sweatshop, you protect your most important currency: the energy and enthusiasm of your people. You’ll get better staff engagement on the opportunities that really matter, and win the work you really deserve to win.