posted on 21 july, 2015

Dr Jim Quintrell, one half of the double act that is the ‘Conference Doctor’ led an extremely informative and thought provoking discussion during our ‘Love Me Tender’ lunch last Friday.

An eclectic mix of event professionals attended the lunch, held at the uber-stylish Belgraves London, from ExCel London, Creative Technology, George P Johnson, Swirl Wine Events and Clipper Events.

The discussion kicked off with the question “What do procurement look for?” the answer, Dr Quintrell explained is almost always value rather than the perceived pounds and pence.

The topic of ethical bidding and tendering came up quite quickly with Jim explaining there is now directive from the government to public sector to work more with SMEs however, the question of ethics will remain, and not just the public sector, private sector also has governance around this issue and for very good reason. If acceptance of a bid means that a high percentage of your turnover is due to one organisation, project or contract it’s important to consider the consequences should that contract be pulled. Will it result in your company or business folding or people losing their jobs?

Another ethical question, price v capability came up with an eventprof recalling receiving a tender that was based 70% on price and 30% on capability, and the additional challenge that someone will always make a bid on this basis.

This highlights that the work still to be done is two fold, the same as it will take time for companies to stop sending out unethical tenders it will also take time for companies to stop responding unethically as well.

Jim went on to give a few pointers and a few key things to remember. Contrary to belief relationship is number 1! There is generally always a committee behind the decision making and it is very hard to win a bid if you don’t know anybody within an organisation, so consider the relationship that exists.

Think about your credibility and experience, some organisations, to give an example Pharma, are extremely picky about whom they do business with and also think about your scope and governance.

Feedback is essential. If you don’t win a bid then try and get feedback as to why so that you can make changes for the next time. This is essential and you should always insist on a follow up meeting to gain an understanding of where you fell short. A alarm bell should ring here if they don’t allow this and the response is simple, don’t bid again! If they don’t let you go in then there’s no relationship and no trust.

Jim advised us to consider time and resources, tenders are like buses nothing for while then three can come in at same time so use a framework, and he went on to teach us a little ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ – when responding mirror the client, by this he means understand their brand language and keywords and use this understanding when responding, be guilty of using their words and phrases, make it obvious to them that you understand their business and marketplace.

It’s very easy for us to look at procurement as very emotionless but the truth is that procurement professionals are still people who want to do a fantastic job. Everything is moving down the procurement route, that we know for certain is not going to change anytime soon, and as people who work within events and marketing are now increasingly required to become more objective surely we as professionals can use this to offer our expertise in a more constructive way.

A few tips from Dr Quintrell on how to avoid the pitfalls to finish off, make sure you answer the questions, follow the process, get your value across, take a punt, make sure your answers are consistent and in clear and concise English, and evaluate!

Another fantastic lunch and we’re looking forward to what’s in store after the summer!

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