Why A Robust Bid Kickoff Is Crucial

When a bid lands, there’s the temptation to jump straight in and start writing your response. STOP. When you ignore the importance of a kick-off meeting, you set yourself up to fail.

With tight deadlines, Tenders can quickly become overwhelming and stressful. It’s very common to dive straight in, answer what you can, and then try and plug the gaps. Whilst it might seem the easiest path forward, driving robust solution and strategy discussion with key stakeholders early in the bid program is crucial. Having worked on hundreds of bids, here’s what we’ve learnt about kick-off meetings:


1. Have them early

Sometimes there is the temptation to hold off… wait for a site visit or procurement meeting from the Buyer. These public forums are often unlikely to provide you with much input in building your solution. You can obtain useful facts and snippets of information but nothing that should prevent you from setting up a kick-off call. As soon as feasibly possible – get it in the calendar.


2. Choose your attendees wisely

To get good buy-in, it’s usually better to get all your key stakeholders together at the start. It doesn’t mean everyone needs to attend the whole meeting, but early engagement will ensure the bid is on their radar and that they understand what is required of them. And don’t just assume it’s senior people that need to be there. We suggest that where appropriate, all stakeholders and subject matter experts responsible for writing or reviewing content should be there.


3. Have a clear agenda

A meeting with no agenda can derail things quickly. Work out what is most important to your attendees and present it concisely. For example, useful things at a kick-off meeting include bid context, background/relationship of client, evaluation criteria, value proposition/solution, strengths over the competition, and key messages etc. You can also dive into the schedules (or rearrange a separate storyboard/content planning meeting if appropriate).


4. Run it on screen

We like to run the kick-off live on screen and take notes as we go, rather than rely on attendees taking their own notes. Once we get into the returnables we recommend planning the response together… discussing the key content that should be included in each schedule or question, and who will be responsible for that response content. Doing it on screen means everyone can collectively see what is being agreed upon. It also helps keep the agenda on track – when we are writing notes, attendees are less likely to be tempted to go off-topic.

 

5. Clear deadlines and responsibilities

It’s useful to have a calendar handy with key dates inputted for everyone to see. That way deadlines for drafts being issued and review meetings can be agreed upon together (which helps with subject matter experts buy-in). It can also flush out days when people are simply unavailable, and a new date can be jointly agreed upon (which can save time and hassle later down the track).


6. Prompt follow-up with actions

Quickly distribute a list of actions – make it as clear as possible what you expect from someone and by when. Where this process is followed, we tend to find that the rest of the bidding journey stays on track. Or is certainly more likely to! In our experience, a well-executed kick-off meeting is when attendees leave knowing what is expected of them and have a clear understanding of the next steps.

 

PitchThis has worked on hundreds of bids. As well as assisting with kick-off meetings – we manage the whole process including design, project management, writing, and proofing. Contact us to find out more.

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