Bid Strategy

The key to a successful long term bid strategy is two-fold: identifying ambitious long term objectives and consistently working towards them, while also retaining the flexibility and freedom to exploit openings in the market.

What happens when an organisation doesn’t have a long term strategy? Well, it drifts. It doesn’t move from point A to point B in a planned and orderly fashion. Instead, it flails around at the mercy of the market and is constantly reacting to new opportunities as they appear.

Not everything can be planned out in detail years in advance, but there are certain principles that suppliers can stick to in order to create a stable flow of new business in the long term: think before you act, plan ahead, prepare thoroughly, but be ready to react quickly to events and change course if necessary.

Early engagement

Without the ability to think several moves ahead you’ll forever be condemned to running around breathlessly trying to meet deadlines. Bids formulated entirely within a short timeframe will be lacking the care, attention to detail, and resultant quality that it is necessary to prevail in the crowded marketplace that is the public sector.

By keeping your ear to the ground and actively engaging with buyers – and thereby gaining intelligence about their procurement strategies and schedules – you can spot contracts coming and literally add months to the window of opportunity rather than racing around and throwing together a sub-standard submission.

Go / no go assessment

Don’t mistake the go / no go assessment as an exercise in determining whether or not you stand a chance of success. The key question is: do you want to bid for this?

Many companies testing the waters of public sector tendering for the first time make a big mistake: they dive in too fast. They embark on a frenzy of bidding once they’ve achieved basic eligibility only to become disillusioned in the absence of success.

It’s not just newbies that make this error; even seasoned suppliers can be tempted into pursuing opportunities without considering the long term consequences. All too often businesses of all sizes are tempted to bite off more than they can chew when faced with a particularly tasty tender and the prospect of fat profit margins.

A manageable pipeline

The problem is – and this applies to all but the most titanic operators – committing to a sizeable contract today may limit your freedom of action in the coming years by using up your capacity. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes.

Avoiding huge bids in favour of widening your focus and spreading your efforts more evenly across multiple smaller projects can often be a more profitable, stable, and flexible approach. Below threshold contracts – often eclipsed by more lucrative prospects and ignored by larger operators – can offer the best route to a varied portfolio and steady growth.

With some effective early engagement and go / no go assessment processes in place, you can build a pipeline of winnable contracts while remaining nimble and capable of capitalising on unexpected opportunities.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below or call 0800 222 9009 with any questions.