Business Development Audit – Stage 6: Converting Leads into Orders


Stage 6: Converting Leads into Orders


Stage 6: Converting Leads into Orders

Peter Jubb, TC Group Consultant

Generating leads of the right quality and quantity to meet pipeline targets and your business model, is tough and time consuming. Leads themselves, of course, must be converted into orders and this may or may not be completed at the bid stage, which I talked about in Stage 5 of the Business Development Audit process.

For example, in the public sector the procurement will be most likely contained in the written response with respective quality and pricing information. The exception to this, is where a final stage is activated in the form of a presentation to a client panel, designed to showcase your offer in person or virtually.

As the written response requires a step-by-step sequence of activities for successful completion, so does the preparation for a final ‘one off’ presentation, if there is one. I remember being schooled in this several years ago via a rigorous number of sessions with an external consultant, which included.

  • Presentation formats, content and skills
  • Voice training, avoiding monotone pitch
  • Anticipating questions that you may get asked
  • Ensuring that all stakeholder interests are represented
  • Understanding the detail in your written submission.
  • How do you want the client panel to feel at the end of your presentation/what would you like them to say, once you have left the room.
  • What is your USP over a competitor
  • Rehearsing presentations in front of an independent panel.

The point of the above is to ensure that this final piece of the process is not taken lightly, after all the previous investment of time and effort compiling the original bid.

In the private sector, there may be more opportunity to follow up on your bid, to ensure that the client understands your bid, and feels energised by your proposals. For example, whether a client is commissioning a new home or a new manufacturing facility, one of their main priorities will be to ensure that the team delivering the project are fully invested in their vision and may require several meetings post-bid, before selecting their final and preferred service provider.

Another key area to examine, is the success rates of your bids, breaking down your business development activities into conversion rates by client, sector, work type and other factors.

This way you have some metrics to reconcile the success of your business development. It goes without saying that gaining feedback on bids whether successful or unsuccessful is part of the learning curve to be shared with all those involved in generating leads, compiling bids and delivering projects. Whilst there is no specific magic formula for creating winning bids as each bid has some different characteristics, feedback, is nevertheless useful in many ways; it may for example influence your bid or no bid decisions for a particular client group or sector in the future, or it may enhance your capability to add missing parts of the bid toolkit or improve existing aspects of it.

Another thing to reconcile is the close out of bids. Not all bids are strategic, as some may be quotes for a service you offer, such as flood risk assessments if you are a consulting engineer.

The number of people submitting quotes and bids will vary, depending on the size of your SME business, but you need a system that closes them out, so that you haven’t got potential orders being missed.

You can develop a simple metric for this by setting a % target of bids being closed out in a given period. Obviously, some bids/quotes may take months to get a definite decision for; the importance of a tracking system is therefore a vital element of the follow up process. There is also an important client management/care aspect to the follow up process, in that clients will soon notice if quotes are being followed up, and if they are not, it may cause them to think that their needs are not a priority for your business (which simply may not be the case), but the lack of a follow up system is the problem. This is why a joined-up business development system for all those who have a direct interface with clients pays dividends.

At TC Group, we can help you to develop lead conversion and follow up processes to maximise your win rates.

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