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Bid process

Talking to clients part 3: Debriefs

How often do you request* a debrief with the client after the procurement process has concluded? Rarely or never? Always, but on losses only? Or do you request a debrief every time, whether you have won or lost the contract?

If your answer isn’t the last option, you could well be missing out on important feedback on your tender, your team, your pricing and your approach in general. Without understanding why you won or lost an opportunity, how will your submissions improve? It really is that old adage of the definition of madness being doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Client debriefs are a real opportunity (whether on the telephone, video conference, or even emailing tailored questions) to understand what you did well or where you need to improve. Many bidders only request a debrief on losses, but they are equally important where you have won; you cannot and should not assume the client liked everything about your submission.

So the client has agreed to your request, now what should you be asking? Clearly there will be specifics from your submission, but some ideas are:

  • What were you were looking for from the procurement process? Did it achieve what you wanted?
  • What was your perception of us prior to the procurement? Did this change during the process?
  • How did our submission measure up generally against the other submissions?
  • What did we do well? What could we have improved on?
  • Was there anything in other bidders’ submissions that you particularly liked?
  • Do you feel we demonstrated our experience in your sector/market clearly and effectively?
  • Do you feel that we [have] proposed the right core team for you?
  • How important was pricing in your final decision? How did our pricing compare to other bidders?
  • How did we do in the presentation stage? Do you feel we brought the right team to speak with you? Do you have any comments on any member of the team?
  • How did you make the decision? What was the process? Who was involved?
  • What did other bidders offer in terms of added value services, or meeting your unwritten needs?
  • [If a win] Do you have any concerns about our ability to implement, or our relationship with you going forward?
  • [If a loss] Are you happy for us to stay in contact with you in relation to relevant mailings and event invites?

But don’t let the debrief process end there. File and save the debrief notes, and start coding the responses (e.g. strong team, evidenced qualifications, good use of technology, poor recruitment processes, lack of innovation), chart them, track the themes and share across your organisation with the relevant people. This can provide vital information to your organisation on where you need to focus future strategy and investment, and what you need to focus on as you onboard if you were successful, or tackle for the next go around.

How can you move on and develop a stronger relationship if you don’t know what to address?

All feedback, positive or negative, will help shape not only your next submission (and hopefully improve your success rates!) but also the future of your organisation, and your relationship with the client – whether you won or lost on this occasion. How can you move on and develop a stronger relationship if you don’t know what to address? Learn lessons, improve and share knowledge.

*For the purpose of this blog, we’re talking about the bidder requesting a debrief, not whether the client then agrees to provide one, and not the generic feedback letter you receive upon contract award.

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