Don’t leave your best times on the track…

 

Remember this — they only mark what is in the written submission.

 

Bids are competitive processes. The only thing that matters is the race itself. Yet time after time companies leave their best performances in training. On whiteboards in the Bid Zone, in conference calls that never got written up, on email threads that we we’re all too busy to open, at endless alignment meetings over weeks and even months. What people forget is that unless it gets into the final submission, the client never sees it. It doesn’t get marks. Brutally, much of it was wasted.

 

Now a certain amount of wastage is to be expected — in fact it’s healthy. Your best guys are validating approaches and sorting the wheat from the chaff. But it’s way beyond that on most bids. On most bids, far too much of the bid budget is spent on stuff that never makes the submission. It’s left on the cutting room floor.

 

Here’s a good test. Look through a submission on deadline day. Then track back through your calendar looking at where the bid budget went, at the teams and meetings that got scheduled, at the pages and pages of content that got junked. Trust me, your jaw will drop.

 

What goes into the final submission is, very often, a base level of content plus what was in the heads of a few of the senior guys who saw the document across the line. They use the stuff they know has worked before, and they rip out great swathes of other boilerplate or material they don’t understand. Soon, you’ll have a feel for what percentage of the spend saw the client.

 

Now look at where that spend came from — really look at it. I’ll make a prediction. 80% of it came from the very early stand-up sessions you held, way back at the beginning of the bid process.

 

So what? So we think only the beginning and the end really matter. The first three days when the direction of travel is set and Mr Pareto Principle provides 80%, then the last five days when the senior guys appear and re-fashion all the clay. In between the burn rate can be high, but the progress (in terms of final client facing material) is often minimal. Scary?

Remember this — they only mark what is in the written submission.

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