|When they ask YOU a clarification Question |
Learn from the mistakes of other bidders.
Gain insight from 3 lost bids
We often help clients challenge poor decisions by evaluators. I want to share some lessons from three bids that we were asked to look at after they were lost. The tragedy is, that in our opinion, they would have been won save for a simple error by the bidders.
This error was the same for each of the bids. It was because of the bidder’s poor response to an evaluation team’s clarification question. In each case they answered the specifics of the question. However, they did not address the underlying reasons as to why the question was being asked.
We all have strategies for exploiting clarification questions during the bidding process. But ask yourself “Have I got a strategy for responding to my client’s clarification questions after the bid is submitted?”.
It’s not over when you hit Xmit. If the customer asks a question it means that you are in the final group from which they will select the winner. Your response will be evaluated, and your score modified accordingly. So you now have an opportunity to improve your score!
All too often, immediately the bid is sent off, the bid team is disbanded and the bid manager is straight into a demanding new bid. In each of the three bids we looked at, the sales lead or bid manager sent a hurried, almost trite response to the follow-up question. We think this was a serious error. We consider that any bidder’s response to a clarification question is as important, if not more important, than the original bid itself! We have seen that these few lines of text can be the difference between winning and losing.
So next time you wipe your brow, having pressed the submit key on a portal and are preparing to take a well-earned rest, please pause for a moment. Think how you will respond to any follow-up questions you might get. We believe that you should anticipate regathering the bid team and create a strategy to produce your best response (we have a template for this – email me if you would like a copy).
Have a Plan for such situations By devising a plan for handling clarification questions post-submission, you can ensure that your response addresses both stated and implied needs, improves the original bid, and increases your chances of success. It may involve rapidly reallocating resources, assigning dedicated team members, or implementing a process that allows for prompt and careful responses to such inquiries.
You have spent money and effort getting your bid to this point. Do not throw it all away with an inadequate response to an enquiry from the client. Remember, each clarification question is an opportunity to refine and reinforce your bid. So it is essential to give every such question the same level of importance and deliberation as your initial submission.
What you should do now If you have found this update helpful, please do let me know (it will encourage us to do more). If you would like further insight on this, and in particular a copy of our template response strategy please contact us by mail, or call us on 01227 860375.