Having a committed and engaged executive team can make a huge and positive impact upon the success of the bid. When it works well they can bring energy, motivation and expertise to a bid that galvanises the team and helps deliver a brilliant submission.
But sad to say, this isn’t always so. The flip side to senior executive involvement can be that they don’t follow the same rules as the rest of the team, can drive a steamroller over proven processes and leave a trail of chaos in their wake.
The most common problem we have seen in our work in supporting bid teams with both public sector and private sector companies is that the biggest pain comes from bringing senior people in for their views late into a bid process.
Commonly we’ve seen a team work away on a bid for 2 or 3 weeks before a senior executive gets involved (often only a few days before deadline day). This then leads to a flurry of new thoughts, ideas, comments and changes that all need to be incorporated in short order. The result is lots of stress, answers that don’t flow and inconsistent messaging.
So what does this all mean for the hard pressed Bid Manager who needs to get the bid out of the door, but has to ensure that the bosses are involved and contributing at key phases? Quite simply it adds in another key skill that they need to possess, the ability and need to manage the managers.
For us there are three key ways in which you can avoid the pain of the last minute hand grenade to the process:
- Bring them in at the start. Use the kick-off process to get opinions, insights and involvement from the senior team. Not only does this add value, but it allows you to ensure the bid team create answers that the senior team won’t feel a need to re-write at the last minute.
- Keep them updated. Rather than scatter the team to the winds between the kick-off and the final review process make sure that you keep the senior team informed and seek clarification and approval of key ideas and thoughts. At Sales Engine we would always advocate using a collaboration tool to give all senior people visibility at relevant stages.
- Review in stages not just at the end. If the senior team only see the bid at the end it will likely be painful. Get them to review early drafts to give the team time to incorporate their views.
The executive management team made it to their senior positions through being knowledgeable, opinionated, confident and ready to make changes. The role of the bid manager is to harness these strengths into the process of the bid, and not let these same traits become a destructive force in the last few days.
And as a final note to our senior management audience, please bear in mind the impact that your presence can have in the last few days of a bid and plan to get involved early so you can drive the quality not drive the team to distraction.