Companies new to tendering often ask for our top guidelines for proposal writing. Bid specifics often depend on the industry, size of bid, regional coverage and many other factors, but there are a few guidelines that everyone can follow.
As experts in the bid writing industry, we have put together a few tips on proposal writing, by our professional bid writers:
1. Choose the contract carefully
The first step to successful proposal writing is choosing the right contract. Often companies make the mistake of bidding for a much larger contract than they have the experience for. This is a sure way to fail and is a waste of both 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 a contract with a value that is one third your annual turnover. Anything more and the contracting authority will exclude you from the process, as you may not meet the minimum financial threshold.
2. Research and be prepared
Monitor contract portals and be ready to bid as soon as you find a relevant tender. To ensure a successful bid, before writing your proposal 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 key to a winning bid submission lies in the specification. This provides a guide to completing the tender, which if followed correctly allows you to produce high quality, fully compliant bid.
A common mistake in proposal writing 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 the key to successful proposal writing is to 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.
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 proposal submission which will help it to stand out further.
7. Review and then review
An important and often overlooked aspect of proposal writing is the review. Prior to submitting the bid should be reviewed by another team member or manager and 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 the key to the next successful proposal!
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 proposal writing 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.