Review, Feedback

The Problems With Reviews

Proper post-bid reviews are rarely done even though they are one of the most important drivers in increasing your win rate. Whether you win or lose, you need to understand the reasons behind why.

Most organizations we work with do some post-bid analysis, typically in a group session format. But they find these sessions to be completely ineffective. Their people don’t like to be subject to scrutiny and will try their best to get out of the session. The sessions are usually unstructured, and if handled badly, descend into a free-for-all blame session. If it’s a lost bid, the loss is usually attributed to price – broad feedback like this will tend to close down further lines of investigation into the real reasons behind a loss. If it’s a win, there will be backslapping all around. After the session, comes the write-up, which is invariably toned down, in the published version, to smooth out any contentious issues. It is then filed away, never to be seen again. If your learning doesn’t lead to action, it’s a pointless exercise. The net result is repeating the same mistakes and no improvement in your win rate.

These are some of the problems with post-bid reviews, and our solutions for addressing them.

Problem: Solution:
Provide a summary of track record in mobilization » Get an independent facilitator to host the review session.

» Set out what you want to achieve and share this with the participants beforehand so they know what to expect.

» Get the participants to generate their own ground rules for behavior at the session.

» Focus the agenda on what was learnt about the buyer, your process and team working, instead of dwelling on what went wrong or well.

» Send participants an online survey, make it anonymous to capture as many views as possible.
Problem: Solution:
Pinpointing the underlying win/lose factors that made the difference » Get feedback from the buyer – hear directly from them on your dealmakers and dealbreakers.

» Filter through the review session feedback with a core group to prioritize the main issues.

» Do a root cause analysis on the prioritized feedback to identify the underlying factors.
Problem: Solution:
Sharing and acting on the learning » An agenda focused on what was learnt will result in a write up that doesn’t need to be toned down.

» Do a ‘So What?’ analysis on what you’ve learnt to generate actions to implement next time.

» Build your learning into your bid process, for example, you might decide to develop checklists to use on the next bid.

» Let your biggest successes and failures become epic stories that your people can tell over and over again. You want them to become company folklore, that are told by bid bosses to bid teams and new employees for many years to come.

An effective post-bid review process


  • Hold a group session with the bid team and/or send out a questionnaire
  • Do it as soon as the bid is submitted, while its fresh in everyone’s minds
  • The session must be controlled, structured, and moderated by an independent facilitator

The four questions you need to ask your team:

  1. What did you learn about the buyer?
  2. What were the impacts for the organization?
  3. What did you learn about how well you worked together?
  4. How did you grow your skills?

Buyer Feedback
Insist on an in-person briefing from the buyer. You need to hear what made the difference.

This is offered as standard in the public sector, but it’s much harder to get feedback from the private sector buyer. You can ask them to agree to post bid feedback before you bid – you could send them an online survey.

The four questions you need to ask your buyer:

  1. Why didn’t we win?
  2. Did we understand/interpret your business requirements?
  3. Did we make any mistakes?
  4. What could we do differently in future?

Sharing and Acting on Learning
Carry out a ‘So What?’ analysis on your learning for example consider what this mean for your processes do you need to develop new ones, get rid of redundant ones, or modify existing ones.

The two main questions you need to address:

  1. What do we absolutely need to do?
  2. What can we do about it now?

In Summary

  • Reflect on your losses and your wins.
  • Hold a bid review session as soon as the bid is submitted, while it’s fresh in everyone’s mind.
  • Don’t just sit on the learning – share it, and act on it. This is where the real pay-off lies.
  • Make sure you get an in-person briefing from the buyer.