Hiring a Bid Manager? Here’s what to look for when recruiting
If your company regularly bids for contracts, then having a dedicated bid manager on your team is essential to help optimise success when it comes to making your bid. Hiring a bid manager is an investment in your business – a strategic decision which will ensure that you’re in the best possible position to win revenue through RFPs.
Our own bidding experts at Orbidal have teamed up with the recruitment specialists at Conscia to share our top tips for hiring bid managers who will add value to your company. From outlining the essential skills, a successful bid manager should have, to how you can identify these skills when recruiting for this critical role, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
What is a bid manager?
A bid manager is typically responsible for creating, managing, and delivering proposals and bids in an organisation to win business.
Some companies have a dedicated bid team within their sales department, while in others, bidding work is simply shared by multiple employees across departments. As a result, they can usually only contribute as and when they have time, which often means working late nights or on weekends, as they still have their regular duties to fulfil.
What experience does a bid manager need?
Traditionally, bid managers come to their role via marketing. However, as the aim of bidding is to win new business, sales experience is also important.
The combined skillset of a bid manager makes it challenging to recruit a strong candidate – but it can be done. Understanding the complexity of the role means you can recruit someone who demonstrates competence in those key areas which are necessary for the role, shortlisting candidates whose skills meet the specific needs of your business.
Key criteria include:
- Excellent organisation skills
- Good written/storytelling skills
- Process-driven individuals
- Sales experience
- Persuasive personality
As our Orbidal CEO, Tony Corrigan, says: “We’ve seen companies make expensive mistakes when recruiting for their bid team – focusing their search on looking for someone who can efficiently manage a bidding process, instead of looking for someone who has a flair for storytelling and a regular win rate. You may gain a more efficient process, but if you’re not winning business, then it’s at a cost to the business.”
The key takeaway then is this: don’t just recruit someone who ‘ticks all the traditional boxes. Look at the role requirements holistically and find someone with a broad range of experience who will add value to your company by helping you win more business.
Top traits of successful bid managers
Having worked on more than 7,000 proposals with over 1,000 companies across Europe in the past five years, Orbidal knows exactly what a winning bid proposal looks like and what it takes to deliver one. We’ve also worked with multiple bid managers during this time and have identified seven top traits which the best bid professionals share.
Successful bid managers are:
- Highly organised
What to include in your job description?
To ensure that your bid manager vacancy attracts the right candidates, putting together a concise and targeted job specification is key. Conscia is a strategic HR consultancy, recruitment, and outsourcing firm with offices in Dublin, Donegal, Belfast, and Londonderry/Derry. Their team provides both the public and third sectors across Ireland and the UK with competitive, efficient, and knowledge-based solutions, helping them recruit the very best talent to their businesses – including bid managers.
“Establishing the person specification and the job description from the outset is the very first step to get right,” says Conscia CEO, Graham Morris. “Without doing that, you’ll embark on a wasteful journey. We start each client engagement with an initial meeting to allow clients to tell us exactly what they’re looking for and to allow us to get to know the customer, their culture and their operating model.”
As with all positions you recruit for, the company culture, mission, and values play an important role when defining the role description and person specification. When drafting these documents for a bid manager role, however, it’s also important to capture each of the seven top traits mentioned above when it comes to describing role expectations, responsibilities, and deliverables.
From here, the next steps are to list the essential and desirable criteria for the role. It’s worth spending extra time on the essential criteria as this is the guide for shortlisting candidates. It also helps to eliminate bias and most importantly, assists in identifying the most suitable talent pool, including a company cultural fit.
Examples of what to include in your job description:
- Where the role fits in the overall organisation. (E.g., part of the Sales Operations Team.
- What does success look like? (E.g., contributed to a 20% increase in revenue).
- Description of the existing team (E.g., the successful candidate will be managing a team of three bid executives).
- Managing the entire bid process from bid capture to bid pursuit.
- Developing an efficient bidding process which each stakeholder can view.
- Increasing the company win rate by 30%.
- Three years’ experience in managing a specialised bid function.
- Five years’ experience in contributing to private and public sector proposals within your sector.
- Demonstrable evidence of writing winning proposals.
- Three years’ experience working with proposal management software.
- APMP qualification.
- Degree-level education.
Useful interview topics
To help you prepare for interviewing your shortlist of candidates, we’ve developed the following handy list of topics and questions which can be covered when discussing the role:
- Discuss their previous win-rate.
- What does their ideal bid process look like?
- Have they used technology in their process previously?
- How do they manage proposal feedback from buyers?
- How do they handle bid losses? What’s their strategy after receiving feedback from a failure?
- Examples of influence.
- Examples of persuasion.
- Previous examples of successful proposals.
- Ask them to critique one of your previous submissions and suggest a score if they were a buyer.
- Ask how they use competitive intelligence in a bid.
Second Stage Interview
- Test Skills: Prepare a presentation on a drafted bid proposal that’s currently live. (No more the 20/25minutes, followed by 5/10min Q&A).
With businesses across all sectors finding, it increasingly challenging to find candidates for roles across their organisations, it’s important to do the groundwork to ensure you attract and recruit the right people.
“As companies become increasingly sophisticated when competing for business through RFPs, the demand for skilled professionals to lead the bidding process has increased too,” says Orbidal CEO, Tony Corrigan. “The bid professionals we work alongside in our client companies are constantly raising the bar when it comes to proposal quality.”
Conscia CEO, Graham Morris, adds, “We’re seeing pressure across all sectors and all positions when it comes to recruitment. We’ve seen companies make expensive mistakes by not investing time in getting the basics right in terms of role description and person specification.”
“Remember, your bid manager must contribute to the growth of your company. You’re hiring for growth, not for project management, ensure that is reflected throughout the entire recruitment process.”
Orbidal delivers systematic bid intelligence to your sales and business development teams to turn 60% RFP Scores into 90% winning scores and more opportunities for growth. It’s the complete winning system.
Conscia blends extensive public sector expertise with the very best cutting-edge recruitment and HR knowledge from the broader private sector. The Conscia approach ensures that public, charitable, and non-profit sector teams, operating in a competitive employment market, can secure and retain the very best talent available.
Tony Corrigan is Founder and CEO of Orbidal. He is a leading advocate of ‘smart’ strategies for businesses involved in competitive selling.