Knowledge is power - feedback and learning lessons blog post

Knowledge is power – feedback and learning lessons

From our research we have found that an insanely high proportion of organisations do not learn from their mistakes or past experiences when it comes to growing their business.

We find that this is most acute when it comes to tenders and proposals.

Learning organisations 

Organisations that progressively grow sustainably over time tend to be ‘learning organisations’. Win or lose, they always request feedback from the client, saving their organisations time and money in the long run by sharing what they have learned across their business – updating their approach, processes or content as they go.


There is a one-time opportunity to learn valuable lessons directly after submitting a tender or proposal; by asking for bid feedback. The client should feel like they owe you some considered insight into what you should do differently next time, with the efforts you have put into their procurement.

With public sector / federal procurement’s you may automatically receive bid feedback and scoring. Usually it is quite high level as the client will be quite risk adverse and not wish to attract any challenges to their process. Don’t be afraid to respectfully request further information. For instance, ask for your scoring per response relative to the highest scorer, with feedback on what differentiated their response from yours.

If appropriate, request a face to face feedback session, either formally or even better, informally. These are really very useful as you can read the clients body language when working through their feedback and they may tell you things that they may not have put in writing.

Think carefully about who attends any feedback sessions. It is quite possible that some feedback could be quite personal and relate to who you put forward and their performance, particularly in interviews / presentations. Take into consideration who will be on the other side of the table and what seniority of people you should send to the meeting. If you send someone too senior they may clam up, not senior enough and they may not take it seriously.

You’re looking to piece together a constructive evidence base of what you should do next time to win a similar deal. This can range from feedback on your people, your approach, solution and responses, to the look and feel of your documents.

Challenging decisions? 

Lastly, a word of caution. In a few markets and regions we have begun to see an increase in organisations challenging procurement decisions. It is true that we have seen an erosion in the quality of client documents and procurement processes in the last decade.

There appears to us to be a slightly increasing probability that mistakes have been made and poor decisions taken. It is fairly easy to pick apart clients processes with the help of a smart lawyer. We urge you to think carefully about how you tackle these instances. You have invested in their procurement, both financially and emotionally. But it’s all to easy to destroy long term relationships and streams of opportunity through knee-jerk reactions in the heat of the moment. Really do your homework on where you really stand and if there is a genuine issue. Where there is, approach it sensitively and consider how you might all win.