What Is Your Bid Client Thinking?

Uncovering the thought processes of clients who are evaluating bids could give you the winning edge

Whilst each client is unique, there are some common lines of thought that many will share.  It’s our view that the factors below are often insufficiently considered by busy bidders.

Existing Supplier Relationship – Is this for a contract that is currently being delivered?  If so, what is the relationship like with the incumbent supplier?  How has their performance been?

Budgets – There will likely be a budget for the goods / services.  Even if yours is close to being the winning bid, is it on budget?  Getting authorization to go over budget may be problematic.

Risk – What are the risks for the client and their customers / service users?  Whilst risk may be a low scoring question (or absent from some client questions), it is still an ever present for clients.  The last thing they want is to be “holding the baby” at the point a contract goes pear-shaped.  A senior person will ask “What clown let this contract?” and heads could roll.  So, self-preservation kicks in for evaluators – your response needs to demonstrate how you are de-risking the client.

Disruption – How much disruption would changing supplier cause?  For what benefit?  What if your bid price and the incumbent’s are fairly similar – have you made a compelling case why you should be appointed?  For example, what innovation are your bringing?

Elephant in the Room – Is there something about you, the client or this contract that nobody is mentioning?  Having the courage to tackle the issue(s) head on in your bid may help distinguish you in a positive way.

Strategy & Future Proofing – Your bid needs to connect with the client’s wider strategies.  It also needs to future proof them as much as possible – helping them take advantage of new opportunities and protecting them from possible adverse market conditions.

Senior Decision Makers – Have there been changes at the top of the organisation?  How will this affect the appetite for change?  For example, new brooms may want to sweep clean, so this could be a good time for a change.

Public Relations – How will appointing you play out?  For example, does your bid include making people redundant / closing down workplaces / cutting back on services?  There may be good reasons for taking these actions, but you will also need to demonstrate that you have considered the PR implications and have a plan for working through these.

Award Process – If there is scope to do so, does your bid contain a 1 or 2 page executive summary?  This can be a very helpful document to a busy client – it can be used as their Board / Committee paper to justify the recommendation to award you the contract.

Many organisations that we are currently working with are seeing the benefits of bringing external assistance external in at key stages of the bid process.  Having someone that can help them “hear the voice of the client” before the bid is submitted can reap some large dividends.  Dealing with what is not said may turn out to be just as important as answering what is asked for!