PROPOSAL BENCHMARKINGThe first step to a better win rate
Whether you work in a large corporate, a small-medium enterprise or own a business, you’ve heard about benchmarking. Renowned business leaders often highlight the importance of benchmarking to the success of a business.
“All Good to Great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts about the reality of their business. When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self-evident.” — Jim Collins.
What is benchmarking, and is it relevant to bid and proposal development? Better yet, can it help improve your win rate?
Can benchmarking really improve your win rate?
Proposals are a critical element of the sales process. For some organisations, they’re a source of competitive advantage. For others, well… not so much.
Benchmarking is a journey of discovery. It is designed to test your organisation’s capability to develop compelling proposals and win more business.
You might be so used to “we’ve always done it like this” or “it works just fine” that you don’t see the opportunities for improving performance. Benchmarking gives perspective and helps you understand how and where your business needs to improve and is the best place to start optimising your bid process and responses. And, yes, it will help you win more work!
Research proves it
Data from the 800+ organisations that have used the Proposal Benchmarker shows unequivocally that it’s a simple formula: companies with better proposal capabilities win more.
Give your bid office a competitive edge
Proposal benchmarking helps your company gain a competitive advantage edge by identifying best practices that you can implement to ensure more wins. But be warned, the journey to improving win rates is not for the faint-hearted. Finding out “why we do what we do” requires commitment, planning, accurate implementation of plans, and ongoing, targeted professional development.
When not to benchmark
Where do you start? How do you go about assessing your proposal capabilities against competitors, industry peers, and best practices?
Experts agree that looking at your internal way of doing is an excellent place to start, finding areas in your business that consistently perform well and examining how they do what they do. But the most significant benefit comes from looking at what other companies do, how they function and what they do.
Ask the right questions get the right answers
“What a business needs most for its decisions — especially its strategic ones — are data about what goes on outside it. Only outside a business are there results, opportunities and threats.” — Peter Drucker
Firstly, you need tools that will help you gather the correct qualitative data. For example, a survey asking questions about the sales lifecycle, bid process, bid teams’ pain points and the organisation’s attitude toward proposal development is great to collect qualitative information.
In addition, executives, salespeople, business development managers and marketing teams often get to see proposals and marketing collateral from other industry peers or competitors. Therefore, interviewing them about the effectiveness of your bid processes and bid documents will provide compelling insights.
Lastly, it helps if you look at the quality of the proposal or sales documents you submit. These documents represent your brand, and first impressions count! A high-quality, well-prepared proposal inspires confidence in your abilities to deliver the services or products that you propose. Therefore, you need to constantly evaluate the quality of the bid documents you submit.
Analyse and interpret the data
If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there – Lewis Carroll
Gathering the data is half the battle won.
Next is making sense of it. It would help if you had an expert eye to analyse and interpret the data. You must transform what you discovered in the assessment into an actionable, practical plan to improve – your bid process, proposal document, skills and ultimately, your win rate.
As with all good things, success depends entirely on how badly you want it.
Commit to better proposals
In the opening paragraphs of this article, I cautioned that benchmarking is a commitment to improving professional development and not for the faint-hearted.
If you’re not benchmarking your performance against your competitors, you’re just playing with yourself.” — Al Paison.
Fortunately, you do not have to go it alone. If you want to improve your proposal skills and win rate, engage the services of a professional proposal consultancy. This way, you will increase your deal capacity to create better proposals quickly and win more work.