Bid Managers: A Buyer's Guide
The whole world wants Bid Managers right now, or so it seems.
Thanks to some much needed government cash injections, there’s been peaks in demand for all kinds of bid people in a few sectors. Our phone has been ringing off the hook with people desperately seeking Mr (or Mrs) Right. Those calls fall into two broad categories:
‘I want someone with 40 years track record in my exact line of work, ideally with an intimate knowledge of my business, and I want them to have won this bid before.’
‘I just want someone to make this bid win for me, I don’t care who’
Ironically, the second person probably has a better chance of success. Here’s why:
There’s no standard ‘Bid Manager’
It turns out that when someone calls themselves a Bid Manager, they could be describing a vast range of different skills and responsibilities. In fact, saying you’re a Bid Manager is about as useful as a heart surgeon calling themselves a ‘doctor. It’s true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Truly great Bid Managers are some mystical combination of project manager, strategist, editor, estimator, negotiator, and risk analyst. In fact every Bid Manager is some combination of these things.
Greatness comes from perspective, not sector knowledge
Right now the rail contract boom means individuals with even a vague history in that sector are commanding exorbitant fees. But fixating on sector experience when building their bid teams means those companies are not talking about the skills that actually make that person good at their job.
Great Bid Managers have a wide range of experience to draw from, and this gives them perspective on the bid. They know how to find the right person in their team to answer any question, and they can quickly take on board new technical concepts. They have tempered those skills in all manner of exotic situations, and can respond to anything ANY buyer or supplier can throw at them, not just the ones in your sector.
Winning takes a team
No bid worth winning was ever won without intensive input from the business. As a minimum there needs to be cost data compiled and a vague solution documented. That has to come from the business, and that means your bid team is always going to be a combination of internal and external people.
That means your Bid Manager has to fit into your team. They need to have the right personality and skill set to compliment your internal resource. If you have a Director who is a superb strategist but can’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag, then your Bid Manager needs to have proven themselves in some sharp commercial bids. If this bid is for a completely new service for your business, like the recent billion pound smart metering contract, then you need a Bid Manager who can co-ordinate and help craft the delivery model for that service.
So what do YOU need?
One of the reasons we’ve got such a diverse team here is because we know that every client needs something different from their bid team. Cliff’s knowledge of the social care sector makes him the perfect manager for anything in that sector, whereas Chris’s track record with bids for complex new solutions mean he often finds himself dropping into businesses on large technically driven service or works contracts.
So next time you bring in an external Bid Manager, make sure you think about the actual job you’re expecting that person to do. Then don’t just ask that person what bids they have won, ask them how they did it.
What are you looking for in a Bid Manager? Why not tell us in the comments below…