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10 Proposal Writing Guidelines

Executive Compass Branding

Companies new to tendering often ask for our top guidelines for writing proposals. Bid specifics often depend on the industry, size of bid, regional coverage and many other factors.

However, we can offer some general tips that will help to guide you through proposal writing, please find below top tips by our professional bid writers:

1. Choose the contract carefully

The first step to a successful submission is choosing the right contract. Often companies make the mistake of bidding for a much bigger contract than they have the experience for. This is a sure way to fail and is a waste of time and resources.

Choose a contract for which you are fully compliant and have the right level of experience. As a general rule, only bid for contract with a value one third your annual turnover. Anything more and the contracting authority will exclude you from the process.

2. Research and be prepared

Monitor contract portals and be ready to bid as soon as you find a relevant tender. Research the competition in your area, previous contracts and the various contracting authorities.

Finding current contracts in your industry can also give you an advantage if there is a renewal date. This way you can research the contract, the incumbent and the evaluator, allowing you to prepare copy and evidence well before the release of the tender.

3. Follow the specification

The biggest key to a winning submission lies in the specification. This provides a guide to completing the tender, which if followed correctly allows you to produce a high quality, fully compliant bid.

One mistake companies make is straying from the specification, which will only result in a failed bid. Look out for these areas:

Specified bid format
Word counts
Supporting documents (such as policies and procedures or case studies)

4. Answer the question

It may sound simple, but always answer the question. It can be easy to stray and add additional information however, if it is not relevant to the question then it should not be included.

One tip is to keep referring back to the question after making each point. This way your response will always be relevant.

5. Evidence and explain

Provide evidence to support major points within your answers. It is easy to make a sweeping statement, but backing it up with evidence provides the contracting authority with the assurances they need.

The evaluator is always looking for evidence or case studies to give weight to an answer.

Information On Tendering For Contracts

6. Stand out from the crowd

Writing a proposal is a competition and as such you need to show why you are better than the other companies. One of the best ways to stand out is through innovation.

This is especially the case with renewed contracts – the evaluator is always looking for innovations and advances from the current service. If you can show these then you will gain a distinct advantage.

If the specification allows, you can also use a unique template for your submission which will help it stand out further.

7. Review and then review

An important and often overlooked aspect of proposal writing is the review. Prior to submission the bid should be reviewed by another team member or manager then improved accordingly.

This will remove spelling and grammatical errors as well as improve the overall quality of the bid. Completing multiple reviews throughout the bid writing process will ensure the strongest possible submission.

8. Request feedback

Regardless of whether you win or lose, always request feedback. The contracting authority has to provide a detailed reason as to why the bid was unsuccessful.

This is key to success in the future.

9. Analyse and improve

Thoroughly analyse the feedback highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of your submission. Use this information to see what works the best and improve your bid process for future contracts.

Use a bid library to store model answers and supporting documents. Following each tender you should add to and improve your bid library accordingly, creating stronger bids for the future.

10. Bid less win more

The final guideline for winning more contracts is to bid less. This way you can place more effort into the submissions you do produce, creating stronger bids.

By not over-stretching your team and focussing on fewer bids you will see noticeable improvements and an increase in your win rate.

For more help with writing proposals. watch our video on common proposal writing mistakes:

Call us now to speak to a member of our Bid Team:

0203 507 0314 or direct to mobile: 07590 276 006