The 'Go No-Go' question

This tool helps you decide if a bid, tender or RFP is worth pursuing.

There are four questions:
Will anyone win?
Will we win?
Do we want to win?
Is it worth it?


The tool is simple but helps prompt you to think about the opportunity objectively. Many (all?) salespeople are competitive, and so we like to chase every opportunity. But driving up win rates may be a case of being more selective about which opportunities to pursue. The tool works by prompting you to answer some questions and then gives feedback based on your responses.

No data is collected, no data is stored and no data is sent to the tax authorities, so relax and have a go. The most you have to lose is your time submitting a bid that has no chance of winning.

Q1; Will anyone win?
Not all RFPs have a winner because they were never a 'real' project. There may be a variety of reasons for this:
The prospect may be 'fishing' for a budget to put into a business case
A manager may be sponsoring a 'vanity project' that they support (but no-one else does)
An incumbent may have submitted a rate rise and the responses will be used to 'market test' if the proposed increase is still competitive
A narcissistic manager may enjoy the power-trip they feel dealing with external suppliers (because they have no authority internally)

Let's look at some indicators of whether anyone will win this work!



Is there a budget for this work?
In the 'olden days', salespeople looked for the MAN; the person with the Money, the Authority and the Need. Projects that are unfunded or unbudgeted should be a red flag

Is there a timeline after the deadline?
The 'timeline' after the 'deadline' refers to what happens after the deadline for the receipt of offers. Good practice is to have a reasonable period of time to evaluate offers, and then a kick-off meeting or 'ramp-up' process. If there is no timetable as to what will happen after the closing date this is a red flag.

Is there a business need for this work?
I worked for an airline buying First Class seats. The ROI on the First Class cabin was minus 33%. The seat manufacturers were right to be sceptical. Why would you spend millions refreshing a part of the aircraft that already lost millions of dollars?

The answer is because the executive team enjoyed the status of being a customer. The business case was "Yes, it doesn't make sense financially, but…". Ask if there is an endorsed business case or water-tight business logic behind the work.

Is this a real project?
Read the 'background' section to the RFP. Is there a rationale? Is there a project sponsor? How senior are they? Is there an incumbent supplier? Is there evidence that the prospect knows what they are doing?

Is there a budget for this work?

Is there a timeline after deadline?

Is there a business need for this work?

Is this a real project?

Q2; Will we win?
Most salespeople have a pipeline in which they estimate the chance of winning. It is human nature for competitive people to over-estimate the chance of winning. Factors that may affect our chances of winning include:
The nature of our relationship with the prospect (if there is one)
The number of other bidders
The overlap between the specification and our solution
The sophistication of the client (aka 'do they know what they are doing?')

Let's look at some indicators of whether we might win this work!



What is our relationship like?
Do we have a relationship? If we are tendering "blind" then it will take something very special to get the sale over the line. If the relationship is negative it will take something very, very special! The better the relationship, the more likely we are to win. No surprise there.

Is our value proposition aligned with the scope?
The 'scope' is the scope of work or specification. If our solution is a poor match for the scope, we are not going to score many points in evaluation, are we? If we have no track record in the work, we are not going to score many points in evaluation, are we?

Are we differentiated?
Even if we have a solution that matches the scope, we may not win if other bidders have a solution which is a better match. If we score 6/10 for our solution, but a competitor scores 8/10 because their solution is class-leading and ours is a 'me-too' solution, we have a chance. But a small chance.

Are we the third bidder?
In many organisations, procurement governance has ended the days of the single bid. Competition is enforced by tendering rules, which say "at least three bids shall be invited".

The problem is that if we are invited to bid, but the stakeholder is emotionally committed to their preferred bidder, we may be a 'tender mule'. There to make up the numbers. We are wasting our time. Indicators may be a specification written around one firm's solution, a long history of incumbency, an unfeasibly short response time. OK, most response times are unfeasibly short, but if we receive an invitation to bid after other bidders, what does that tell you?

What is our relationship like?

Is our value proposition aligned with the scope?

Are we differentiated?

Are we the "third bidder"?

Q3; Do we want to win?
All clients are not equal.

Some are more trouble that they are worth. If only we knew that before we won the work! Let's explore what makes a client attractive (or unattractive).

Can we actually deliver on our promises?
Will this work meet sales and/or strategic goals?
Is this a random opportunity, or is this prospect in our target group by sector and/or geography?
Will the 'cost to serve' eat into any margin making this client a nuisance account?

Let's look at some indicators so we can avoid winning work that we later wished we'd lost!



Can we resource the work if we win it?
Is it 'do-able'? Seems obvious, but if we need a new office, or a new depot, or any investment that is not client-funded, we need to be sure that it makes business sense.

Will this work grow our business?
When someone suggests a 'strategic' reason for chasing an opportunity, challenge them. "Are you sure you don't mean a tactical reason? Make sure that the 'strategic logic' is real and not just another way of justifying a gut-feeling without any commercial rationale.
Growing the business may include building a relationship with a new client or in a new location, and if there is a sound rationale, great. If not, be honest about why you are doing this.

Is this prospect a target?
Sales planning usually identifies prospects that "fit" with criteria that make sense. But if some random opportunity comes along, it is hard to say no, isn't it?

All sales are good sales, but not all customers are equal. If the prospect was not a target, or in a target group, ask yourself why that is.

Will this be a nuisance account?
A 'nuisance' account is one that is low in sales value and unattractive for a variety of reasons. These may include low prospects of sales growth, low margin or high costs to serve. The stakeholders may be challenging to deal with. If we could calculate their profitability, these accounts would be in the 'not worth the effort' category.

Better to avoid this in advance !

Can we resource the work if we win it?

Will this work grow our business?

Is this prospect a target?

Will this be a 'nuisance' account?

Q4; Is it worth it?
If we have scarce resources we need to prioritise those opportunities that maximise the return on our investment of time and expertise in bidding. The questions explore the ROI of the opportunity based upon three factors; the total contract value (over the lifetime of the account), our gross margin and the costs of bidding. The calculation is based upon a 'par' ROI for sales investments of 500%.

What is the expected gross revenue if we win?
Gross revenue may be a guess. There may be a fixed contract price, but also there may be variations and/or extensions of the term of the contract. You can enter the values directly in the field or click the plus and/or minus buttons. Enter the total contract value over the lifetime of the account

What is our gross margin?
The slider ranges from zero to 80%. Drag the slider to the value that works for you. The number on the right of the window shows the value that you have selected.

What is our cost of bidding?
Is bidding just another 'cost of sale'? Or can we calculate the actual costs of reading, writing, editing and reviewing? What about the managerial time consumed, the use of bid writers or graphic designers, the late-night pizzas, the last-minute panics?

The model has a default cost of $10,000 but try to be realistic! You can enter the value directly or click the plus and/or minus buttons.

What is the expected gross revenue ($) if we win?

What is our gross margin?

What is our cost of bidding?

Feedback
This is a simple model and here is a graphical representation of what your responses suggest. Let's hope that it creates some independent, objective rigour to the assessment of opportunities! If you want this model in Excel form, why not get in touch?

Q1; Will anyone win?
[WAW]%
Customised feedback will appear here
[WAW]%
Is the prospect 'fishing' for a budget to put in a business case? Maybe check if the project is likely to be funded?
[WAW]%
If you don't have enough information to understand the opportunity, how will you get more information to help you develop a competitive proposal?
[WAW]%
This may not be a real project and may not be a good use of your time.
[WAW]%
This is probably a real opportunity.
[WAW]%
This is almost certainly a real opportunity! Let's win this!

Q2; Will we win?
[WWW]%
Customised feedback will appear here
[WWW]%
This prospect does not appear to be a good fit for your solution. It doesn't look like you stand a good chance of winning this opportunity.
[WWW]%
If you don't have enough information to understand the opportunity, how will you get more information to help you develop a winning proposal?
[WWW]%
Your solution is not a good match for the prospect's needs and may not be differentiated from competitors. Bidding may not be a good use of your time.
[WWW]%
Your solution is aligned to the prospect's needs and may be partially differentiated from competitors. Bidding may be a good use of your time.
[WWW]%
Your solution is a good match for the prospect's needs and can be differentiated from competitors. Bidding may be a good use of your time. Let's win this!

Q3; Do we want to win?
[DWWTW]%
Customised feedback will appear here
[DWWTW]%
This opportunity does not appear to be one that will contribute to your financial success. There may be other criteria that affect your choices, such as building a relationship with the prospect, or "strategic" reasons. (If there are "strategic" reasons, are they real, or just your competitive instincts?)
[DWWTW]%
If you don't have enough information about how the prospect would contribute to your goals, why would you bid? It might be a good idea to get more information to help you make an informed decision!
[DWWTW]%
Accounts like this may chew up managerial time and contribute little strategically or financially. Why are you doing this?
[DWWTW]%
This opportunity may be a good 'fit' for you and bidding may be a good use of your time.
[DWWTW]%
This opportunity is a great fit. Bidding may be a good use of your time. Let's win this!

Q4; Is it worth it?
The ROI is [ROI]%
A "standard" ROI is 500%
This is a poor return on investment!
The ROI is [ROI]%
A "standard" ROI is 500%
This is a below average return on investment!
The ROI is [ROI]%
A "standard" ROI is 500%
This is a good return on investment!