Bid process

The Psychology of Bids, Part Two

In part one of our blog last week, we examined how Belbin’s team roles model can help us look inwardly at our bid team. If Belbin provides an internal view, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help us look externally to the client to help us really understand what is important to them and how we pitch our response.

Carl Dickson of PropLibrary has previously translated Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to making better decisions in the bid process; but we’re looking here specifically from the perspective of the client’s requirements and how we meet them.

An External View: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (

In Maslow’s model, the needs at the lower end of the hierarchy must be satisfied before progressing to those higher up. The first four layers, grouped as basic and psychological needs, are classed as ‘deficiency’ or ‘d’ needs. The top level, self-actualisation / self-fulfilment needs, are ‘growth’ or ‘b’ needs. In basic, Psychology 101 terms, deficiency needs motivate us when they’re unmet, while growth needs come from a desire to grow, rather than being something you are actually missing.

In bid world, basic needs are those basic client requirements they must have you fulfil e.g., you hold x accreditation, can provide/already have a building to house the contact centre, or can demonstrate your commitment to health and safety. All the ‘things’ your client has to have to function.

The client is looking for how you’ll bring value to the relationship, and make a difference to its people

Psychological needs encompass how the client needs you to involve their staff and/or customers, to give them something they need. For example, your software will provide an online portal for customers to easily make contact and manage their account, you will demonstrate a commitment to training staff (particularly in customer service skills, which will again deliver a secondary benefit), or you’ll establish a reward and recognition structure. At these levels, the client is looking for how you’ll bring value to the relationship, and make a difference to its people (again, staff and customers).

For some bidding organisations, this may be where they stop on their journey up the pyramid. But what about what the client hasn’t verbalised/documented? What about those benefits you know your solution will provide to them and which no-one else can deliver?

Figure 2: How do you convey what you know the client needs when they haven’t said they need it?

These are the growth needs, perhaps unwritten and unthought of, but which will deliver real value and prove to the evaluator why your solution is the only choice. Identify how your solution benefits the client at the start of the bid process, devise themes and messaging which can be played back to the client throughout your response.

Give them something different to think about. Something only you can deliver and which may be the difference between a shortlist and a win. Use psychology!

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