How to Accelerate Bid Team Performance
At Acorn we have many years of experience of accelerating bid team performance, whether accelerating the alliance of a number of companies coming together, or optimising the diversity of ideas within a single business. Common to all situations is the need for the bid team to create a key differentiator from its competitors.
Facing the Challenge
Our experience of working with bid teams, across a number of sectors and bidding situations, highlights several key factors that place high demands upon the bid leader and their team to perform. A bid team is frequently formed quickly, requiring an ‘alignment of expectation’ of:
- the bid-winning strategy
- the way in which the team is to work; roles, responsibilities, level of support expected
- the key milestones
Lack of key personnel to prepare the bid often means that team selection is based on availability, rather than the best people for the job.This places pressure upon the team and the bid leader. Leadership of a multifunctional bid team requires the bid leader to:
- elevate themselves above the detail to ensure the ‘bid parts’ connect and have consistency.
- continually challenge the team to ensure they are listening to and answering the client’s needs.
- challenge the bid team’s performance to ensure they are delivering the best possible outcome.
Critical to all of Acorn’s developmental input is the need to get a bid team to be as effective as possible as quickly as possible, given the timescales involved in the bidding process.
We have made a number of inputs to our clients to accelerate bid team performance, which were reported to have added considerable value. The four-step process below brings together key interventions at different stages of the bid process that can be undertaken as a whole or as single elements. In addition we may recommend a Listening and Coaching Skills workshop which has proven to have been highly beneficial in distinctly setting the bid team apart from its competitors. In consultation with you, we will determine the key areas of development required in order for you to differentiate yourselves.
The Four-Step Process
This can be provided over a long bid process, or key components can be selected to accelerate bid team performance over a shorter duration.
Step One - Scoping Meeting
An initial scoping meeting with the Bid Manager, including:
- identification of key issues unique to that bid
- discussing the differentiating capabilities imperative to bid success
- the bid team ‘make up’ and the team ‘dynamics’
- key deadlines/milestones
Step Two - Whole Bid Team Event
A one-day team event for the whole bid team. This has been carried out for up to 40 people. The aims of this day are to:
- set expectations on desired approach and methodology for the bid team (behaviours as well as process) that will create a point of differentiation
- establish a sense of ‘team’ and familiarise participants with each other
- clarify communications within the team
- generate a sense of shared understanding of: the ‘ bid win themes’ and ownership and responsibility for the bid
- identify the members of ‘the guiding coalition’
This event has been used for both long and short bid processes.
Step Three - Clarifying the Expectation of Bid Lead Team
A one-day leadership event for the bid team managers. The aims of this day are to:
- establish a sense of this team as the guiding coalition for the bid and to further familiarise members with each other
- introduce the team to the pre-qualification documentation
- establish roles, expectations and desired approach that will shape the methodology for the bid team (behaviours as well as process)
- clarify communications within the team
- further refine the bid win themes and start to identify ‘differentiation’
- generate a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for the bid
- identify a core team from the coalition that will have primary responsibility for direct client contact
Step Four - Listening to the Client’s Needs and Desires
A one-day skills-based workshop for key members of the bid team dealing with the client on a day-to-day basis, focusing on active listening and responding to the client. The aims of this day are to:
- develop insight and understanding into the effects of attitude formation and how this impacts on behaviour and the process of listening
- develop insight and understanding into listening and questioning approaches in response to clients’ buying cycle
- develop a framework against which to interpret information received in the context of bidding
- practice the skills of:
- non-judgemental listening
- different questioning styles, structuring questioning
- summarising and paraphrasing
- demonstrating understanding
Listening Skills Workshop combined with Coaching Skills
Acorn, in answering the needs of our customers has provided the Listening Skills workshop in conjunction with Coaching Skills, designed to answer feedback often aimed at bid teams by the client as ‘not listening to our needs’. Our client, in this circumstance, was concerned that their team did not collectively indicate sufficient attentive listening: the skills and behaviours represented by the ‘good few’ were not being transferred across to other team members. This led to the addition of the Coaching Skills workshop.
The feedback on this process has been very positive. Compared with other bid team start-ups this Bid Team Process has had the effect of accelerating the process by several months.
These are examples of how we have previously assisted our clients in the bid process. In consultation with our clients, the design of each module can be flexed to ensure the needs of specific bid teams are addressed.
What Our Clients Say
“We are now in a position with our multi functional bid team - only 3 weeks into the bid - that took us in excess of 8 months to get to in our previous bid. The development intervention from Acorn has been highly beneficial in accelerating our performance.”
Helen McArthey, Bid Manager
“After 30 years in the industry I have come to the point of understanding that I’m no longer just a construction man but more of a facilitator of relationships!”