Let’s face it, tendering can be a painful process and an ever-present but not always welcome reality for lawyers and in-house business development teams.
‘Traditional’ business development activities – networking, seminars and even blogs take time to translate into new clients and instructions. However, the beauty of a tender is the opportunity to join a panel or win a specific mandate, securing a new client relationship within a relatively short timeframe.
The ROI is pretty clear.
That said, producing a winning tender response is a challenging, pressured and skilled job, usually requiring significant amounts of time from multiple lawyers and business support teams.
Having worked with lawyers for over 15 years, I have seen many teams pour blood, sweat and non-chargeable hours into tenders that they were just never going to win.
On any normal day when you aren’t in tender frenzy mode, this makes no business sense. But it takes a very strong person to stand up once the submission clock is ticking and ask the killer question:
In the first in our series of articles, we look at the first golden rule of tendering – before you do anything else, you must be certain that you can win. And by win, I don’t mean just meeting the tender criteria. Compliance is simply not enough.
Essentially, a ‘bid/no bid’ or ‘go/no go’ process stops you careering headlong into a tender as soon as the documents appear. It provides a consistent and measurable process across a firm to dissect the ITT, RfP or whatever format the tender information has come to you in.
It enables you to be objective about whether you can win by applying a series of simple but tight criteria and questions (based on fact not aspiration) to assess whether you have the expertise, knowledge, track record, pricing information and resource to beat your competition.
The same goes for more informal invitations to submit proposals. ‘We’ve had a request to submit a proposal for X, it needs to be in this Friday,’. Take a minute, and apply your ‘go/no go’ criteria before committing precious resource to an opportunity you may not have a chance of winning in the first place.
Lawyers may rally against another process and more forms to complete. However, embedding a tailored ‘go/no go’ procedure is straightforward and will ensure that the cost and time involved in tendering is directed only at opportunities that you can win.
I would be interested in hearing views from law firms on this, get in touch and let me know what your experiences are.
Whether you are new to bidding, struggling to win tenders or need to take stock of and improve your bids and tenders function, we can help.
Our tenders and proposals team are commercial, creative and full of energy. We can help a stretched bid team or be your outsourced bid support and solution at any stage of the bid and proposal process.