The Importance of Linking Your Sales and Bid Teams

We wrote at the end of last year about how Procurement can play an important role in Sales, and wondered why we don’t see much interaction between the two. So we are delighted to bring you this opinion piece from Dave Thornton, Founder of Thornton and Lowe, which helps organisations to perform better on bidding.

Many organisations get invited to tender, or see an advert publishing details of a tender or opportunity and simply follow the instructions and reply. They end up doing more and more of these, if they see success, to the point where capacity to respond to and write these responses becomes too time-consuming, with a Senior Management team supported by Marketing and Administration working evenings and weekends. As a result they either outsource to a Bid Consultancy who act as an outsourced Bid Team, or they recruit their own Bid Team, usually starting with a Bid Manager, who is expected to manage the quality responses, as well as writing.

So there is a team responding to these formal opportunities tasked with income generation. Then there is the original sales team usually working separately on non-tender clients, where a proposal may be required but the vast majority of income rests on relationships. On occasion they will work on a project together owing to an existing client outsourcing their procurement or putting in a process for supply chain management, and the Sales Team will need support from the Bid Team.

By having these separate divisions largely working in isolation there is missed opportunity. Often the path bidders go down when responding to tenders, is just that, they 'respond' but forget to realise it is still a sales process, it is still a competition and in order to win you still need to ensure the unique selling points.

Contract-specific discriminators jump off the page and run as a theme throughout the quality response of a tender or formal proposal. They need to show an understanding of the buyer’s issues, concerns and how your product and service will mitigate these, and other issues, successfully.

This understanding and knowledge of the client sits within a Sales Team who are dealing with clients as part of their every day. A Bid Team is usually office-based, they rarely speak with a client and can lack this vital understanding. Ultimately as we are bidding in order to win, there is another aspect which applies in formal tenders and is often overlooked. The importance of the relationship. Ideally, when a tender is advertised, as a bidder you will be expecting it. You will have met the buyer, you would have advised on the specification and demonstrated your ability already.

With public sector contracts which are regularly renewed every year or few years, this is easier as there are tools, such as our Tender Pipeline, which provides this information and the likely renewal dates free of charge. Through this route, the Sales Team can be building relationships, doing business development activities to endure they have the full picture, opportunities and risks, before the advert.

They can then work hand in hand with the Bid Team to ensure they fully understand what will win the contract, what the buyer has showed interest in and what their concerns are. This combination of a deeper understanding of the buyer and the winning solution can be developed jointly, both teams working seamlessly to create a persuasive and winning proposal.

Within the private sector, this is the same. The Sales Team lead on understanding the market, the buyer’s requirements, likely chances of tenders coming in and then whether it is a small proposal or a more complex bid. They can use the Bid Team who specialise in taking their knowledge, understanding and relationship and getting it on paper as a specific and detailed response.

Conversely, when a Bid Team sees a Contract Notice or tender advert, they may go through a ‘Bid No Bid / Go No Go’ process to establish whether they bid or not; this needs to include the insight from the Sales and Business Team. Without this intelligence, they may be bidding for and therefore investing in opportunities for which the chance of success could be incredibly low, perhaps due to 'politics,' or a high-performing incumbent with a solid relationship.

Bidding and tendering, we believe, is part of the wider sales process and firmly sits within the Sales Function. We actively encourage this partnership, which can lead to substantially higher success rates.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Spend Matters.



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Voices (2)

  1. Jason Cooney:

    I think it’s critical that the sales and bid writing teams communicate closely, not only to plan for the tender pipeline, but also to ensure all intelligence gathered throughout the tender process is incorporated into the bid. At my consultancy, we focus on extracting as much client intelligence from the sales team as possible.

  2. Zeller Laurent:

    Right on spot. Without connection to Sales Team, answering a tender has no sense.
    The most difficult from a Sales team perspective is to remain involved. Once you rely on a bid manager to coordinate virtual answering team, to prepare the deliverables and to submit in time, many account managers will take it easy and won’t participate in the elaboration of the bid winning theme, in the definition of those unique selling points related to the customer situation.
    I, as Bid Manager, keep on solliciting every day the account managers I work with to get their collaboration, their continued involvement and contributions.

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