I don’t know how many bid responses, tenders, or capability statements I’ve written, but it would be over 1000 (back in the day while working in Hong Kong, it was at least one a day!) and while I now have the hang of it, there are factors which can inhibit the quality of the product. For example: fatigue; a competing workload and a short lead time; a lack of fee earner buy-in or content contribution or, as one partner coined it “they can just wear you down” and; the sheer volume and scale of a response.
Let me paint a specific scenario for you, I was just recovering from what I would describe as one of the worst tender projects I have ever worked on (it was a shocker!) and I was well and truly fatigued or as some of my colleagues would say: I was suffering from Post Traumatic Tender Disorder (PTTD).
I knew that another large tender request was about to be released and that I needed support. I commenced my search for a consultant to assist and canvassed various options. Some were eye wateringly expensive and others were simply not a viable option (they wanted to project manage all aspects, their experience was a bit outdated or market feedback about the consultancy wasn’t great). I put forward various resourcing and cost options to the decision makers with a recommendation.
Throughout the process, there were five clear benefits that became apparent while working with an external consultant:
1) Strategic Perspective
They know best practice and can tell it to you (and your fee earners) straight. “Focus on this, forget about that, point out the “so what factor” and importantly remind you to ANSWER THE QUESTION!” They really help to get your bid response focuses and on the right track.
2) The Consultant X factor
You can say to the fee earner tender team, for example:
- “We have engaged an external consultant for x, y and z reasons.” This demonstrates to the business the importance of the opportunity being pursued.
- “The consultant needs to review your section/CV so you must meet this deadline…” this is gold for meeting deadlines as this helps to drive a sense of urgency.
If a fee earner pushes back on a point or suggestion, you can preserve the relationship with them, but the consultant does not have the same issues that you have with managing the relationship.
3) Senior Resource and Boost to the BDM Team
Not all teams are created equal.
By way of example, as the only business development resource tasked to manage a large tender response, it can be a daunting prospect. Take for example, in a legal services response, the potential number of areas of law you might be submitting, 20+ and the stack of CVs, not to mention the other substantive sections. This is a substantial amount of drafting, reviewing and chasing fee earners to update content. Or, you may simply require their expertise to populate and flesh out a case study.
With the consultant’s assistance, you can produce guidance notes and a sample answer for the relevant section(s) and then send them on to fee earners. Bid response consultants will have a clear methodology on how to manage bid responses, like this 12 step approach. We all know that lawyers and indeed everyone in professional services loves a good pre-populated document that they can easily modify. It saves fee-earners time and you (some) heartache.
4) Cheerleader and Supporter
It is SO helpful to have someone (other than your best friend, a family member or partner) cheering you on from the side line.
The consultant gets it. They understand the focus required, how stressful and emotionally draining preparing an RFP response can be. “You’ve got this”, “you are doing a great job” – these words of encouragement are motivating! Particularly, when you are not receiving encouragement or support from internal stakeholders because they are preoccupied with their workload or they can see that you have everything under control.
5) Access to additional experience bid response resources
Often the consultant will have a great contact list of additional resources that you can tap into, for example, graphic designers, proof readers and copywriters.
Conclusion – why you need experience bid response consultants
There are several benefits as outlined above.
In my experience, the clear benefits are: the consultants ability to present fresh ideas and a strategic perspective; to inject energy into a bid response and provide encouragement and support to the business development team.