Want to win more bids? Say “no” more often!

When it comes to bidding, we can thoroughly recommend one change that will transform the performance of any business.

Say “no” more often.

“Madness!” I hear you cry.  But in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Bidding less is smart.  It means you’re effective at carrying out, what we call in the bidding world, a ‘bid/no-bid assessment’, rather than bidding on every opportunity that comes your way.

The Bid/No-Bid Assessment

Whether it’s a simple ‘back of a fag packet’ checklist, or something much more complex – just do it.  Every time.

If you want to win bids, it’s essential you ask yourself the question:

“Does the buyer have a compelling reason to choose us?”

Often people ask the wrong question, which is:

“Can we really win this?”

This question sucks for one key reason.  It results in far too much emotion.  Far too much macho bull-crap.  You might as well ask “ARE YOU A LOSER?!”.

Taking the emotion out of this decision is the hard part.  Sometimes the emotion, the thrill of the chase, or the pure desire to bag that long-standing sales prospect take over, but you MUST ignore those desires.  Instead, you have to be systematic in your approach to this process.

So, how is that done?

Creating a Bid/No-Bid Assessment

There are a few different ways to do this, but the most simplistic is a number of questions, which should be sub-questions of the original:

 “Does the buyer have a compelling reason to choose us?”
  • Are we known to the buyer?
  • Is the scope a great fit for our company?
  • Is there good alignment between procurement’s objectives and our USPs?

This list could go on and on.  Importantly, it should be tailored to your organisation and answered honestly.  As experts in the procurement process, we take a slightly more nuanced approach, looking out for signals provided by the buyer, both before and during the process, that can help us understand their intent.

Why “No” Results in More Wins

Once you’ve got your assessment set up and start using it effectively, you’ll find yourself with fewer bids to write.  Although this may feel counter-intuitive, this process will remove the time-wasting bids and free up more time for you and your team to concentrate on the bids you can actually win.  It also encourages you to consider win themes and bid strategies in advance and in doing so acts as a catalyst for your thought process.

The net result: more wins, less effort.

You’ll also see a number of other benefits, such as:

  • More motivated and engaged bid writers
  • Improved buy-in from technical and commercial staff who support your bids
  • More time to focus on other activities, such as pre-bid market engagement
  • Increased win rates

How to Say “No” Politely

Saying “no” to an opportunity, especially where procurement has gone out of their way to invite you to a tender process, can be a tricky conversation.  If you decide not to bid, make the buyer’s life easier by making this clear to them and providing a justification.  It’s okay to be direct and open, but make sure you are respectful of the buyer’s process and polite at all times.

It’s only so long before they’re running the tender for your ideal contract…