Name: David Gray
Position: Bid Development Director
Can tell me a bit about your role at AM Bid?
My role in the company primarily involves bringing new clients into the business, working with them to get to know the sectors that they work in and – crucially – the markets they are aiming to win work in.
I lead our bid teams and ensure that the high-quality bid writing and management we provide is underpinned by robust bid strategy, with a continual focus on delivering what it takes to win the contracts we bid for.
I also sit on the Board of AM Bid, and alongside our MD, Andrew Morrison, have responsibility for the strategic direction of the company, contribution to our growth targets and the day-to-day running of the business.
What have you learnt working at AM Bid?
That the skills and methodologies of delivering high-quality bids are transferable across a broad range of sectors. I’ve worked successfully in over 25 sectors in the last year and have learned the fundamental importance of attention to detail and a continued focus. We have delivered bids that have scored 100% on quality, which takes a great deal of effort and strategic thinking.
I’ve also learned that growing and scaling a business is no mean feat and takes a lot of energy, effort and hard work… but the rewards are worth it!
What is the best thing about working for AM Bid?
The best thing about my role is helping our clients achieve their potential. We have a lot of clients who are very good at what they do but who were failing in the bid process, and therefore were not winning enough new contracts. To be able to go in and improve their bid strategy and bid function, to drive marked improvement in their win rates is very fulfilling, particularly when you then see their business growing in front of you, as a direct result of the work we have delivered.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There really is no such thing as a typical day; it is very varied as we work with clients in a broad range of sectors, across the UK, Europe and overseas. I’ve done teleconferences at 5am to catch Australian clients before their day ends, and I’ve been in meetings everywhere from Bristol to Inverness – occasionally on the same day! There is a lot of travel involved because I go where our clients need me, and my preference is always to meet face to face, particularly as we are establishing relationships and building strategies for successful bids. There is no better way to develop trust than meeting in person.
What is your top bidding tip?
Consider your audience. Organisations need to understand their customers’ and clients’ motivations – what we call their ‘hot buttons’ – then tailor their bids to meet these. Careful consideration needs to be given to the roles and priorities of the various members of the evaluation panel, as they will often have very different hot buttons. It is important to be cognisant of this and develop win themes that play to these different motivations. If the buyer doesn’t understand you, it’s not their fault; it’s because you haven’t explained it well enough.
How can budding bid writers get into the profession?
It seems to be a profession that a lot of bid people fall into, so my advice would be for anyone already working in an organisation with a bid team to get to know them and offer them some assistance. I’ve never known a bid team to turn away help in the bid process, so there will always be opportunities to gain experience, which may lead to a formal role in time. I’m a member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), who run great local events to share best practice – these are great opportunities for enthusiastic bid writers to learn more and develop their professional networks.
What’s the best thing about working in the bidding profession?
Winning! As those who know me would attest, I’m a very competitive person, so I find it very satisfying to win bids for our clients. There are few careers outside of professional sport that will give you such a tangible feeling of winning, and I still get a great buzz from hearing about a client’s bid win, as I know how much it means to them – and how fundamentally important it often is for their business.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Outside of business, I enjoy spending time with my family, particularly my wife and two young kids. I go to the football with my Dad and my 5-year-old son, which is a great family day out. On the odd occasion where I find myself with a free half-day off, you’ll likely find me on the golf course, which is a great escape from the fast pace of everything else in my life! I also enjoy live music – I saw the Rolling Stones in Edinburgh recently, which was a fantastic night.
What’s your favourite quote or saying?
My wife gave me a traditional wooden letterpress print by the Graphic Artist and Designer, Anthony Burrill, to hang on my office wall. It reads: “Work hard and be nice to people”. Burrill took his inspiration from a conversation he had with a woman in his local supermarket, who said this was the secret to a happy life. It’s beautifully simple, but a great mantra to stay focused, grounded and conscientious.