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  • Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, The Americas

3 Ways To Increase Your Win Rate and Stop Placing Second



Though new business activity has been scaled back at the moment, there are still some pursuits taking place. And more are coming.  So it’s timely to take a look at what organizations should be prepared to do to win more often.


Even our most successful clients ask us what they can do differently to keep from placing second in their bids. While it’s encouraging to hear your team’s proposal makes it to the final round, failing to win the deal can be demotivating, not to mention make it harder to meet revenue and new client goals. The P&L impact of losing extends from the top line to the bottom line. Few organizations give enough thought to dollars spent - and wasted - on lost pursuits.  


Pursue Opportunities You Will Win


One of the most important ways your pursuit teams can generate higher win rates is by first identifying opportunities that you may not be able to win. Responding to every RFP results in inefficiencies and wastes your team members’ valuable time. Post-Covid 19, the temptation to pursue every opportunity coming your way, will be powerful. Maybe irresistible.


The pandemic notwithstanding, The Artemis Partnership tells our clients to ask themselves these 3 questions to decide if the opportunity is worth pursuing, or if the likelihood of winning is possibly out of their hands:


  • Did you have strong relationships inside the prospect organization before you received the RFP? 

  • Will the prospect look at your experience and be able to relate it directly to their needs? 

  • Do you have the capacity and motivation to pursue the opportunity with real intensity, or will you be on autopilot or distracted due to other business priorities? 

If you can answer each of those questions positively, then consider it worthwhile to move forward with a proposal. If there are doubts, it might be better to decline the request for proposal before beginning the work, saving your team valuable time and energy, and increasing your conversion rate. 


Ask the Right Questions


Once you begin developing the proposal, take the time on the front-end to gather valuable details and information. Winning and losing is directly related to the amount of information a pursuit team gathers from the beginning on the decision-makers and influencers. Then, as teams create proposals, use that information to enhance your positioning and make your solution more compelling.

If you find during the data-gathering stage that there are hurdles in getting information from decision-makers, this could be a red flag that your chances of winning the bid are not strong.


Generate Constructive Feedback


While the best practices in this article are designed to increase your firm’s win rate, there are silver linings to coming in second, such as gaining important learnings for your next pursuit. And that can improve your win rate starting with the next pursuit. Sadly, many prospects aren't telling you the whole story. So asking the right questions during a postmortem interview can give you more concrete information to take back to the team.

Some questions you might consider asking:


  • What made us a finalist? (Understanding how you got to the final round helps you understand how you initially did stand out).

  • Did we meet, exceed, or fall short of your expectations? Why?

  • Was there anything about our proposal that was surprising?

  • Were there any parts of our proposal that were confusing?

  • How would you compare the written submission to the oral presentation?

When that RFQ or RFP arrives, take a breath and give it some serious thought. What are your real chances of winning?  If you go ahead, get serious about information gathering. And use that info to determine if you should continue to pursue. Finally, if you’re not successful, make a real effort to learn something useful. 



- Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, Americas