Before speaking about day to day decision-making principles, I would want to take a step back and discuss about the mindset required for leaders heading the Bid and Proposal management function.
At the CBPM 2020 event at Mumbai, what I witnessed was that there is a subtle feeling of a secondary citizen amongst the bid and proposal management community within the larger flying formation that included the sales, solutioning and other subject matter experts. Bid managers from various organizations across India, signalled a feeling of being order-takers who at the end of the day were obliged to ‘tow the line’ that the senior sales leads set out for them.
If at all, this is the mindset that I would drive to change as Director, Bids & Proposals at Genpact. Taking a cue from the military, (where I come from), soldiers who place ‘service before self’ are considered Rock-stars. Similarly, any leader leading this function needs to convince his or her battalion of Bid Managers, that questioning the status quo to ascertain the winnability of a deal or the ‘fit’ of the solution is not just encouraged but expected.
Now, coming to the question at hand, a statement in the Shipley proposal guide that caught my attention was, “Improved bid/no-bid discipline can double or triple win rates, while extensive coaching to improve proposal quality might lead to 15 to 20% improvements.” We at Genpact, derived two action points from the above – 1. Initiate an additional deal qualification gate and ask some tough questions to ascertain the winnability of a deal before assigning costly resources (fail fast concept). 2 – Put in place a comprehensive framework and a proposal benchmarking tool (PBT) to drive quality.
The leadership mindset of pitching the proposal project management function as a strategic capability that would choose its battles and partner only in the most lucrative of opportunities, is slowly yielding results. In 2020, we managed to push back one in every four deals that came to us and of these pushed back deals about 50% were either dropped or lost downstream. Bid managers are encouraged to assess the winnability status (RAG – Red, Amber, Green) and a kind of continuous qualification is maintained. The questions that are asked upfront include but are not limited to – What have been the past verdicts on recent deals with that client?, Genpact’s capability w.r.t offerings, domain depth, geography, availability of case studies, analyst rankings etc. Aspects continuously revisited include client relationships viz. connects with the buying centre, decision makers, influencers, competitive landscape, broad win themes, value prop etc.
Speaking about the quality framework, we introduce the attributes of a good quality proposal upfront during the kick-off calls and undertake quality check of the proposal at two gates. Initially, before submission to make good the shortfalls and finally, post submission to draw out lessons for posterity. In 2020 we assessed about 160 proposals and provided precise feed-back. Stakeholders are loving it. Thanks to this renewed impetus on quality, bid managers have started putting themselves in client’s shoes and taking a hard look at the response document. They are judging quality and taking a decision on whether the proposal is good to go to the client or not.
About the Author:
Nanda Kumar Das
Asst. Vice President
Nanda is a battle-hardened ex-submarine captain of the Indian Navy with 22 years of illustrious service under his belt, including a felicitation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is a triple Masters’ degree holder and has secured his third master’s degree in business administration from the Indian School of Business, as a Dean’s Lister. In his present role as Director, Bids, Proposals and Analyst Surveys at Genpact, he is a tower lead responsible for enhancing proposal quality, driving governance and deal/ survey management. Recently, he also has been made responsible for developing a new capability of project managing Commercial Proposals at Genpact. An avid motivational speaker and storyteller, Nanda pursues his passion to shape India’s future generation.