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What goes into Winning Bids?

June 16, 2014 - Reghunathan Sukumara Pillai

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The software companies invest time and effort in bid management process for submission of multiple bids as part of various pursuits. The bids which are submitted include solutions for products, services, application development and maintenance, infrastructure etc. The value of bids submitted is taken as an indication of potential/future business for the vendor. The field force of IT companies sources these opportunities through direct relationship with clients /consultants or engages with local partners in specific markets for procuring the RFP. The global analyst rating and credentials of IT vendor which are known to external world also ensure that some of the opportunities comes by default to the vendor.
The value of bids for these pursuits for services/solution range from less than USD 100000 to above 100 MUSD. The bids pursued may include a small solution/services to Bank/Financial Institution to providing a complex solution to airlines or telecom industry.
Based on the solution /geography requirements of clients across the globe, the Global Vendors position Bid Management teams in different Geographies with Market experts.  Some of the Global vendors are dominant in some Geographies compared to other players, due to vendor /product origination from the region,  successful implementations in the past, understanding market requirements better etc.
There are complex bid processes outlined by each of the IT vendors covering the end to end lifecycle activities of bids with definition of roles and responsibilities. Marketing team of the companies provides documents/collaterals on competitive information- strengths and weakness of each of the vendors which helps in proper positioning.
A few of the factors contributing to a winning bid could be

  1. Cost factor
  2. Solution design
  3. Product and Solution fitment as per client requirements
  4. Case studies/References
  5. Branding of product/solution
  6. Relationship with the client /consultant
  7. Analyst ratings and acceptance by the client.
  8. Relationship  with Senior Management
  9. Local presence/ proficiency in local language
  10. Region specific cultural and behavioral factors
  11. Technical excellence
  12. Domain expertise
  13. Prior experience and project management skills
  14. Overall proposal packaging with business value articulation
  15. Vendor commitment and passion for selling /demonstrating the solution
  16. Orals and client presentation/demo
  17. Strategic partnerships and alliances
  18. Consultative approach articulating better solution offerings which is appealing to the client
  19. Ability to foresee the client vision for future growth and suggest better than suitable solutions client envisages
  20. Presence of local support staff in the region
  21. Vendor and top management credentials/reputation in the market
  22. Financials of the vendor and standing in the market

However it is difficult to conclude one single factor that can contribute to a winning bid except for the commercials. That also does not mean that only by providing commercials as per Bank budgets, the deal can be won ignoring solution design or one of the other factors mentioned above. Each of the above factor has a significant role to play for each bid and are closely linked.
Each and every bid has to be pursued with utmost care with proper documentation, solution design and commercials. Each bid is unique with different client /solution requirement and  objective and the winning strategy adopted in one of the bid may not be successful in the next bid. Different strategic approaches have to be adopted for multiple geographies. Best implementation/consulting/solution practices can be followed for achieving the desired results.  The Vendor should be able to prepare the best possible Bid to suit the Client considering client specifications and business objectives. The Vendor has to find effective ways for a collaborative engagement with the Client during the various processes of Bid management. This will ultimately lead to sustained client relationship and winning deals.
To conclude, multiple factors contribute to a winning bid and no factor can be neglected /ignored. The percentage of impact each of these factors play in a winning bid depends on the Geography/client/evaluation methods used etc. A determined presales and Sales staff with organization commitment with technical and functional expertise can only help in winning bids continuously. The ability of the Sales staff in managing good client relationship and building business connect with the client including the top management will help in a long way in winning bids.

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