Winning is a team sport – how to effectively build bid teams

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Tips on how to harmonize bid teams when selling IT services

Dawid Bartoszek
Solutions & Sales Support in Projects & Consulting Cloud Infrastructure Services Capgemini Poland

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working on an offer for an American media group. It was one of those deals that I will never forget – mostly because of the various challenges the Sales Leader was confronting us with. However, one detail has stuck in my mind. During one of our team teleconferences, my attention was caught by the phrase „winning is a team sport” which the Bid Manager had written in his communicator status. At that time, I had not yet realized the importance of these words, that winning is a team sport, in the selection and functioning of any bid team. The subsequent years of work allowed me to verify this thought many times. Read in Polish >>>

Learn the secrets of creating the perfect bid team

In this article I would like to share my thoughts around the importance of proper team selection, in order to build an effective and functioning bid team. Subjectively speaking, in the past six years I have been a part of both good and bad harmonized „teams”. With many of them, I would be most happy to work with every time, while the others I would rather avoid if we had to play with the same line-up. And I am completely abstracting here from the issue of winning or losing a particular deal, even though it is an indisputable fact that a properly selected and functioning team can fundamentally increase the chance of winning. I would like to focus on the purely human and organizational aspects that sustain the fighting spirit of the whole team, which may seem obvious at first glance, but are sometimes neglected when planning and traversing the road to the goal – the timely response submission.

Key tips for team building

Captain, attackers, defense, goalkeeper – in other words, everyone has their task
The selection of a bid team cannot be coincidental. To be able to act flexibly and effectively, the team should consist of the best possible specialists in their areas and in the context of the solution we want to sell to the client. In addition to a proper staff selection, tasks should be clearly distributed among individual team members before starting the work on the proposal. This ultimately eliminates ambiguities, overlapping of competencies and mutual delegation of tasks. A proper distribution of tasks also allows use of the available time in the most optimal way. Each member of the bid team brings to the bid process valuable competencies and experience. It is, therefore, important that individual skills and knowledge complement each other, ultimately motivating and promoting coordinated actions.

The right ball pressurein other words, the atmosphere in the team
I think this is the key aspect of working on any bid, the glue that holds the team together despite short timeframes or a flurry of responsibilities. It’s customary for the Bid Manager to play the role of the ever-motivating “coach”, and it’s largely up to him/her how the team plays the game. My best memories and work environment are teams in which requirements were set firmly and clearly from the start, while having an informal enough atmosphere to allow for a relaxed chat, humor, words of appreciation, or discussing topics that are a common denominator for everyone in the team, regardless of their age or nationality. The atmosphere characterized by personal culture, despite differences in opinions or interests, where humor, trust, kindness, mutual help, and reliability are present. It is this kind of work atmosphere that fosters unity and strengthens relationships between employees across nationalities and makes even the most demanding deal a pleasant endeavor.

I have repeatedly heard the opinion that it was the team and the good atmosphere being the deciding factor in someone’s decision to stay with the company, despite the circumstances or a more favorable external salary offer. This shows how important the human aspect is in our everyday work.

We have 90 minutes to win, so let’s respect our own and others’ time
A clear distribution of tasks, building and maintaining the right atmosphere in the team should ultimately foster a spirit of mutual respect for each other’s time and the work that individual members put into the development of the proposal. Time has been and will remain the enemy of the deal process. Therefore, all team members should be aware that this valuable resource should not be taken away from each other – regardless of one’s position in the company or the role in the team.

The important aspects here are:

  • Planning for all proposal development stages with special attention to revision and adjustment times
    Combining proper planning with enforcing team members to deliver content at the agreed time eliminates the need for overtime or work during days off, and allows to maintain a good work-life balance – in other words, the balance that is sometimes so hard to find. The Association of Record for Bid, Proposal, Business Development, Capture and Graphics Professionals (APMP) defines and proposes a specific breakdown of available bid time:
Figure 1: Planning available proposal development time according to APMP
Figure 1: Planning available proposal development time according to APMP
  • A very important aspect, unfortunately often treated perfunctorily, is planning time for the revision of the offer and subsequent adjustments. Experience shows that a well performed revision and associated multitude of corrections can even “blow up” the scheduled time, which consequently intensifies the stress level of the last mile.
  • Agreeing and consistently sticking to the chosen tool and method of offer development
    Modern technologies (e.g. Microsoft Teams) offer almost unlimited possibilities for effective and time-efficient collaboration on proposals. In practice, it works well to agree at the very beginning of an offer creation that text editing will take place online, in a specific document or folder to which everyone has access to. Working against the established rules (e.g. sending documents across, which leads to manual content transfer) forces work beyond the available or agreed time, increases frustration, and often encourages mistakes (e.g. when consolidating several documents into one). So, let’s take advantage of features that the available tools give us.

Summary

The deal process for IT services is in its nature a very demanding and often quite stressful undertaking. This is due to the limited amount of time, as well as the need for parallel planning and coordination of both the various stages and the content of the offer itself. It is, therefore, extremely important that the bid team works harmoniously by:

  • Selecting the best possible and complementary competencies,
  • Creating a motivating atmosphere,
  • Planning and optimal usage of available time using modern technologies and setting common rules of working.

Considering both organizational and purely human factors increases employees’ motivation, their work satisfaction, and boosts the fighting spirit in the offer development process. Let’s not forget that offers are created for people – by people.

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