Crafting Winning Bids: Insights from Successful Sales Director, Karl Wellstead

In the competitive world of sales and procurement, developing a successful bid strategy is crucial. Karl Wellstead, seasoned Sales Director and Winning Tenders ‘Bid Strategy’ and ‘Success on Frameworks’ trainer, shares his expertise and experiences in this field and gives some invaluable advice for SMEs looking to navigate the bidding process and secure contracts. Here’s what he had to say:

The Cornerstones of a Successful Bid Strategy

The most important part of any successful bid strategy is simply ensuring that you have one” says Karl, highlighting the importance of going into each project as ready as possible. He explains how many organisations overlook this fundamental step. A well-considered bid strategy should involve discussions with key stakeholders within the organisation and align with the company’s goals and capabilities. Karl emphasises the importance of:

Aligned Thinking: Ensure your bid aligns with your organisation’s win themes, unique selling propositions (USPs), and value propositions.

Strategic Fit: The bid should fit within your ‘sweet spot’ or desired market niche, supporting your go-to-market strategy.

Planned Approach: Know the bidding opportunity well in advance. Engage early so the customer is familiar with your capabilities, and you understand their challenges.

A Proud Moment: Winning the Ministry of Defence Contract

Karl recalls his most memorable contract win—a £40 million deal with the Ministry of Defence (MOD), which he won for the well-known multinational Office Services provider for whom he worked at the time. This achievement was particularly significant as it marked their entry into a new sector.

The key to this win was early and meaningful engagement with senior procurement stakeholders at the MOD”. Karl and the team provided ‘free consultancy’ to help shape the MOD’s understanding of the market, leading to a more tailored and competitive tender process.

Advice for SMEs Venturing into Bidding

Karl strongly encourages SMEs to start bidding for contracts but advises them to be strategic about it:

Know Your Target: Be clear about your target market and why you are targeting it. Identify your USPs, win themes, and value propositions.

Preparation is Key: Have relevant case studies, testimonials, and references ready to strengthen your bid.

Internal Process: Establish who will manage the bidding process and make go/no-go decisions. This ensures resource allocation and strategic alignment.

Be Selective: Avoid scattergun approaches. Focus on bids where you have existing relationships or strategic reasons to pursue.

Building Winning Relationships: Working with Phil

Karl’s relationship with Phil, Head of Category at the Scottish Government at the time (and now Managing Director of Winning Tenders), showcases the power of strategic relationship-building. Karl targeted the Scottish Government to fill a gap in their public sector portfolio. Through persistent engagement and alignment of their service offerings with Phil’s procurement needs, they successfully secured a place on the Scottish Government Business Services Framework. This relationship was nurtured through regular communication, highlighting successes and addressing challenges collaboratively.

What do you enjoy most about the Winning Tenders training sessions which you run with Phil?

When asked this question, Karl stated that he thoroughly enjoys the dynamic training sessions he conducts with Phil because “These sessions benefit from the dual and complementary perspectives of both procurement and sales, offering a unique and balanced view”.

The interactive nature of these tailored face-to-face workshops, where participants can discuss real situations, has received extremely positive feedback, making the learning experience both enjoyable and highly effective. Karl encourages participants to ask as many questions as they can and be as specific as they like. These training workshops, run by Karl and Phil are tailored to meet the exact needs of the business or organisation, resulting in a bid strategy which works and will lead to an increasing amount of success and bid wins.

Final Thoughts

Karl’s insights highlight the importance of strategic planning, early engagement, and relationship-building in the bidding process. For SMEs, his advice is clear: “be targeted, prepared, and strategic in your approach to bidding“. With these principles in mind, businesses can increase their chances of securing valuable contracts and driving growth.

If you need help, Winning Tenders run tailored training for bid teams together with Karl on exactly this topic. Call us on 01392 247997 or email info@winningtenders.com for advice and info.

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"Winning Tenders have been great. Their bid writer was super - and worked to such a tight deadline. He was very patient despite having a lot of content to deal with and organise. He queried and questioned well, was very adaptable, flexible and understanding and got the bid in with time to spare. It was a good collaborative relationship, which evolved, and they took on board comments which were well incorporated into responses. Ed was great - great questioning"
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