One of the greatest frustrations for a company after submitting a proposal or tender is to be rejected, especially if the team has spent hours on it. Nowadays preparing proposals and tenders has become very complex and expensive: businesses spend a lot of time and resources writing them.
Submitting a bid (or proposal) is a strategic business decision. There is a lot of literature on how to assess your chances of winning, and how to rate the likelihood of being chosen as a supplier. Some experts argue that if you think you have no chance of winning, you shouldn’t prepare the application. In my opinion, this approach can be counter-productive. I strongly believe that a ‘to bid or not to bid’ analysis must be done to assess your chances of being successful in a bid. However, there can be other reasons for deciding whether to submit a proposal: one of these could be to find out how you stand out from your competitors.
To reiterate, preparing and submitting a proposal or tender should be a strategic exercise. A team should always reflect on what they are trying to achieve, externally and internally, when preparing tenders.
- Externally: your team might want to start engaging with your prospect, to be more visible, to analyse the perception of your services perception or to examine the competition.
- Internally: your team might want to assess their own capabilities and capacity to provide a service, and to improve the level of service they provide.
One of the common mistakes that teams make, after they have spent hours on an application only to be rejected, is to jump onto another task merely hoping to get luckier next time. But it is crucial to spend time on properly auditing a submitted proposal.
The first step, as soon as you have received the ‘no thanks’, is to ask for meaningful and genuine feedback. Encourage your prospect to be frank, even though it might be painful. It will demonstrate a professional, responsible attitude.
Even though some prospects might brush you off with a quick reply to get rid of you, it is important to ask. As you will be auditing your own proposal, you will need to assess if the feedback provided has been genuine. From it, you will be able to draw your own conclusions and consider, for instance, whether you wish to tender for this organisation in the future.
With the hypothesis that the prospect has provided meaningful feedback, their insights and your own analysis will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal. Then you can make decisions about the actions to take.
We all learn from our failures and successes. Every company should have a ‘commitment for continuous improvement’ process in place, and auditing your proposals should be part of this process.
At our webinar ‘We didn’t win; what next?’ on Friday 14th March, we will present the steps a company can follow to self-audit their proposal in order to improve their submission in the future.