TO: Board of Directors
SUBJECT: Input on an opportunity to bid for a strategic project
I just got off the phone with the President of the top player in our target vertical market west of the Mississippi:
- Opportunity: They are going to let an RFP in two weeks to six or fewer strategy consulting firms.
- Scope: Strategy, culture, change management, marketing, and messaging. (Yes; they’ve combined it all; and Yes they want one winner to be their partner as they transform).
- Budget: Over $1M in first-year contracted services.
- Term: It’s a multi-year award.
- Qualifications: It’s right up our alley, the CEO know us (me) but has never been a client, our lack of local presence is a good thing because they want a firm with great experience and NOT just someone local.
- Process: Responses will be due six weeks after the RFP is issued, and orals will be in two months with the winner selected by year-end.
Please share thoughts on how to think this through. We want to win as always and this has big implications for our firm if we do win. We have NOT decided to bid. We will do a bid/no-bid process once we see the RFP.
Your guidance in advance is most welcome.
FROM: Board of Directors
SUBJECT: Input on your opportunity to bid for a strategic project
Just about every successful firm can look back and see specific events where it reached beyond its comfort zone to break through in a big way; like the “dog that caught the car” and then did something great with it. The opportunity you describe could be the path to destiny!
That said, caution and careful consideration are warranted. Along these lines, we encourage you to think through the following points:
- If you bid:
Why do you think you can win? How and when did you get connected to this opportunity? If you are just finding out about it now, why do you think you are more than “column fodder” for whoever is already pegged to be the winner? What would it take to be the “Column A” option against which all others are compared?
What would the resource requirements be, both out-of-pocket (e.g., significant travel) and in staff time, to pull together a winning proposal? Can you spring a leader and a team to do the best job possible because here is no point in doing anything less than your best once you decide to go for it?
Can you, as a small, east coast firm, credibly claim to be able to cover such a broad range of services on your own on the other side of the country?
- If you were not to bid, how would you otherwise use the resources that you would have put into the bid?
You are already paying staff so the true cost is the opportunity cost of the people who would be involved in the bid; i.e., what other things could these people be doing, what other opportunities will you not be able to pursue, and what revenue will you not be able to generate because people are tied up on the proposal.
- If you win, what are the financial and non-financial/strategic benefits for the firm? What are the “big implications for the company” if you win that you mentioned in your note?
- What are the odds of winning as best you can figure them out? What can you do to increase them?
- How confident are you in your understanding of their buying process and selection criteria? Why? What other information would it be helpful to get?
- Are there important relationships to have that are required to win the work? Do you have them or can you get them in time?
- Could you generate a comparable lift in extending, expanding, and finding new work at existing clients by deploying the resources you’ll put into this bid? If so, why pursue the bid? If not, why not?
- If the CEO really wants you to bid, it may be worth it for him to have you in the mix as a genuine option or as a foil for his preferred solution, in which case, because your involvement solves a problem for him, he may be willing to pay you to be involved. At a minimum, you might ask him to cover your travel costs or other expenses to bid, perhaps also offering to return those costs, in the form of a credit, if you win.
- Unless the CEO and his firm have a track record of keeping to their announced bid schedules, don’t count on the timing playing out anything like what he has told you.
Let us know what you decide and what we can do to help.