Win themes are critically important. Combing through the requirements of the bid, applying what you know about the customer, and interpreting your role in the overall strategy of the customer business are all necessary pieces of work that will help you to develop positive messaging that can be used throughout the bid process.
But you also have to understand all the reasons why you might lose the bid as well. As much effort should be put into your Lose Themes as you put into the reasons why you will win.
It means taking a very honest look at what you can offer, and working out how you may be marked down. If you have a trading relationship already, it means unpicking the challenges you’ve faced in the past and understanding what impact they have had on your reputation (and don’t forget, some people have long memories).
It can be a hard process to undertake, because it isn’t always easy to openly accept some of the reasons if they are related to people or relationship dynamics. But remember that people buy from other people and so, if anything, those types of issues are the most important ones to know.
Just because it may be a little uncomfortable to do doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If it is a challenge, consider bringing in a third party that can objectively spot them for you.
But why? Because for every win theme you can promote or push, there’s likely to be a lose theme that you can counteract. If it’s opinion based, you can create strategies to affect the opinion; if it’s fact based, for example on price, you can build much clearer cases that back your position if you know you’re going to be more expensive before you submit your price.
And when? Like all things with a bid…at the earliest opportunity.