Bid writing

Top tips for successfully kicking off your bid

It is vital that bids start positively. A good start provides direction to all involved, clarity of actions and drives momentum.

We find that traditionally many organisations, and indeed proposal consultants, tend to mobilise bids with a full team kick off meeting. In our experience there is a relatively high probability that these meetings can fall off track and become a bit of a zoo, with too many voices, not enough action agreed and a subsequent scattering of team members without a clear view of what they have been asked to do.

Don’t rush into being a collection of busy fools

Our key piece of advice is to not rush into starting up your full bid team. We advocate a focused strategy meeting prior to a full kick off. Bring together a smaller leadership group first to understand what is being asked of you in the clients’ documents and to define the win strategy. Ensure that the strategy session has clear leadership, with people encouraged to bring enthusiasm for the opportunity and a detailed understanding of the client, their influences and the opportunity

We would say that attendees should be limited to your executive sponsor for the opportunity, the designated bid leader (if one has been selected), your sales lead for the opportunity, a bid manager for the submission, your service delivery lead (who is likely to be the key delivery CV for your submission) and your commercial lead.

Make sure an appropriate amount of time is set aside for the strategy development in this session. Try to defend that time together, it will reap benefits later. This session is likely to be at least half a day and quite possibly a full day. If the opportunity is worth pursuing, then it must be worth spending time together to understand how to win it.

The attributes of the strategy meeting are:

  • That it is a focused leadership meeting
  • It is facilitated by the bid leader with participation from all
  • It is a ‘Blue sky thinking’ meeting, where innovation and enthusiasm about the opportunity come together
  • Its focused on how to win.

Now you can kick it off with control

Once you have your strategy nailed, then you can brief your wider team of contributors in a full kick off meeting.

The attributes of the kick-off meeting are:

  • That it sets the direction for the bid, affirming commitment and sponsorship
  • The meeting is led by the bid leader with a firm grip on the agenda
  • It is a more methodical action orientated meeting
  • There is an understanding of compliance among the attendees
  • Attendees are enthusiastic about the opportunity and going the extra mile

Splitting Strategy from Kick Off has the following benefits:

  • It gets your senior team and Sponsor aligned, so there is no confusion or dirty washing aired in front of the wider team – there is nothing worse than senior people disagreeing in front of room of their staff, appearing unprepared or setting a negative tone.
  • It provides clear direction, unpicking action from strategy – allowing you to brief the contributors and then focus on what you need them to do
  • Although it creates an additional meeting, ultimately it is more efficient and effective

Some basics – meeting preparation:

  • Distribute information at least 24-hour is prior to the meeting
  • Ensure you have appropriate meeting facilities booked in advance
  • Make sure you have the right people in the room, push for people to have their availability freed for the session
  • Make sure there are copies of the client documentation and any research in the room
  • Print off the agreed bid strategy and key messages and place them on the walls of the meeting room
  • Lastly, the bid leader and bid manager should develop a pre-populated draft bid plan in advance