Increasing use of online procurement portals.
From the evaluators point of view online portals make it easier for procurement to evaluate and rank firms. However on the other side they are not easy for bidders to work within so make sure you break bad bid habits by drafting in a Word document and then over allowing time to upload your final submission.
Even shorter turnaround times on tender requests.
Certainly client work is important, but prioritising the bid is too. A rush to the finish line job is high risk – you might end up with a proposal that’s unconvincing or worse, non-compliant. So before the next RFP hits your desk, get planning with JMA’s guide, reduce stress and make the most out the opportunity.
Requests for access to big data and reporting dashboards.
Many large entities calling for bids will have legacy systems that contain disparate and disjointed data and often look to their external providers for a magic bullet solution. The main thing for providers (as each client is different) is to invest in a system easy enough for all team members to use and flexible enough to generate tailored reporting for each client.
Requests for market insights and commentary on your competitors and their competitors.
In contracting and mature professional services markets, it’s more important than ever to know how your firm stacks up against the competition. This applies generally to firms, but it is also really important in competitive tender, bid and proposal situations.
Set up a Google Alert for key competitors, so you can monitor updates and breaking stories that appear on the web. Follow your competitors’ social media accounts (or at least check them regularly). And if you haven’t already done it, set a Google alert for your own firm to keep track of how often people are talking about you and what they’re saying.
Responding to hypothetical scenarios with your approach and methodology.
Similar to the trend in recent decades for “behavioural” interviews for employment candidates the prospective client is trying to understand how your firm will handle a particular challenge, issue or situation. Done right your responses can form part of your wider client service plan and give that client a foretaste of your service style.
Evidence of policies on diversity, Indigenous reconciliation, anti-bribery and left-field policies like your firm's stance on 'animal welfare'.
When leading and large clients determine their professional service relationships, one factor influencing their decision is how well prospective service providers fit with their own values, culture, and aspirations.
Requests for additional innovation proposals for continuous improvement.
Again, clients look to external providers to help them innovate. Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean expensive software, think about ways you can save that client money or time. An investment in re-engineering workflows and service models can also improve your firm’s efficiency and profitability.
Evidence of project management and alternative pricing options.
The pressure for professional services firms to change their traditional approaches to pricing will not abate, and only those firms that respond strategically will come out on top.
There are many opportunities for firms of all sizes to take a proactive role in managing pricing – you don’t necessarily need to appoint a dedicated pricing specialist, especially if you’re a smaller firm. Remember to get the basics right, and understand what your clients want - choice.
Winning a place on a pre-qualified list, and then competing again for individual opportunities.
Once you’ve completed the application or registration process, been approved and have your place on the list, to some extent it’s up to you what you make of it.
You need to attract positive attention around what it is you do, and build relationships with the relevant purchasers.
Stricter word and page limits.
Many organisations think it will be easier to evaluate ‘less text’ but have unreasonable limits (like requiring a question that is 350 words long be answered in 100 words or less). Strict limits can make it difficult to actually answer their questions.
As a bidder you must respect the process as not abiding by word or page limits will irritate evaluators and make your bid non-compliant. As a work around, if allowed, separately attach longer supporting material or create diagrams to represent descriptions.
Social media requests asking all professionals have updated LinkedIn profiles.
LinkedIn is the most popular social networking platform in the B2B professional services world. Buyers of professional services rely heavily on the internet to help them find and select providers.
In addition to providing useful information about you, LinkedIn establishes your credibility and showcases your expertise. Used well, it can be a highly effective tool to grow your business.
Group procurement or whole of government buying (rather than individual brands or department purchasing).
In the legal world for instance, consumers are “head officing” or centralising purchase of legal services, limiting access for the smaller, single-state and territory firms.
Twenty years ago, for example, local bank branches would frequently appoint local law firms; that rarely happens now. Those that benefit are national firms and those with a strong Australian East coast presence.
Refusing to conduct post-bid debriefs with bidders.
Generally because they are overwhelmed by the volume of submissions. Push as hard as you can (politely) to receive a debrief.
If you are successful use our suggested questions at your next tender debrief to derive the maximum 'lessons learned' and to inform your future decision making for similar bids.
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