Four things Bid Managers should learn from CrossFit
If you've chosen a career in bid management, sales or business development the chances are you are a pretty competitive person.
There is nothing like the thrill of the chase, the challenge creating a compelling and engaging proposal or the euphoria of securing that opportunity you've been working on for weeks or months.
Having led bids big and small over the past eight years, I can contest to bidding being very addictive. But recently I've become a bit obsessed with a new pursuit. CrossFit!
If you search for CrossFit on google you will come across feats of super human strength and endurance, and seeing the best in the world competing is certainly a sight to behold. But behind the extremes of the CrossFit Games are thousands of gyms (aka boxes) who help more average people like me get healthier, fitter and stronger.
I joined my local box a few months ago, and after a slow start finding my feet I'm loving the new experience of actually enjoying going to the gym! And, on reflection, some of the unexpected lessons from becoming a CrossFitter can be applied to bid management you need to instil to win the most complex and challenging proposals.
Lessons One - A positive community culture matters
Unless you are very very lucky, you will have heard the immortal words "I have a day job" uttered by that one person you desperately need help from. When it happens on a bid it's painful, but unchecked, a negative approach or opinion of bidding can stop your organisation from learning and improving together.
Conversely, a positive approach to bidding helps organisations to improve. And that positivity must stem from more than just financial benefit or fear of repercussions if you don't win, it must be embedded in the culture of your business; you have to value bidding, respect the process and pull together to deliver the best possible outcome on every opportunity.
The same applies with CrossFit. A positive community helps to encourage team spirit, supports the members in improving and creates the environment where every achievement and improvement is celebrated.
I once heard a Head of Bidding describe how they "ruthlessly celebrate" every win to really encourage team culture; that kind of approach will set bid teams apart from those who go from one to the next to the next without reviewing and learning from successes and failures.
Lesson Two - Technique is everything
One thing that's taught and continuously reinforced throughout CrossFit is that great technique beats pure strength. And I've seen it first hand where guys and girls are able to lift considerably more, or race faster or further, than others thanks to their efficient technique.
In bidding, this is true too. Finely crafted, compelling, interesting and persuasive proposals which are a joy to read [unlike this article;)] are hard to achieve, but practice practice practice and you get a little bit closer.
In bid management too, being able to coordinate and encourage your team, read personalities and attitudes within reviews, and deal with the stress and pressure of last minute client changes or missing copy all come with practice.
It's effortless bid management technique that makes great Bid Managers stand out.
Lessons Three - Planning is critical
The classes at CrossFit are programmed by an expert coach (although to the unsuspecting participants like me they still seem to come at random!). Careful programming ensures the pace, range of activities and ultimately progression of the group are planned out and designed for maximum effectiveness.
What Bid Managers can learn from this is the importance of programming and planning. Considering when colour reviews and client meetings will be programmed in and allowing room in programming for unexpected changes and delays helps Bid Managers to maximise the available time and resources they have on bids, but it's often an overlooked element of bid management. It's less glamorous but a well planned bid has a much greater chance for success than one that's poorly programmed and coordinated.
Lesson Four - Having fun makes everything less painful
Having fun makes the late nights, stressful reviews, unravelling of complex scoring systems and general bid headaches less painful.
If I think back to the bids I've enjoyed the most they weren't just winners, they were bids I enjoyed working on and remember positively.
Enjoying bidding not only comes from the culture of your organisation (see point one!) but also from the team working on the specific deal, the environment you put your bid team into and, possibly most importantly, the leadership of the tender you provide as a Bid Manager. Create a fun environment and creativity flows and the who team flourishes. Focus purely on process and driving the team hard makes a bid boring and painful and doesn't bring the best out of your team.
With a mixture of fun and hard work, CrossFit demonstrates how having fun makes the process of sweating, hurting and generally getting your butt kicked more enjoyable! It's a core part of the CrossFit mentality and helps to keep everyone motivated through the toughest of work outs.
This blog was written thanks to some nudging and a challenge set byDr Claire Trevien, Lectuer at LCCM and Former Head of Marketing at Passle . Thanks Claire for the support and encouragement!