As bid writers, we’re always looking to improve the way we approach the bidding process. The requirements of bids are constantly changing and whether it’s new legislation or contract stipulations, you always need to be one step ahead.
Whether you have supported your company with a few small bids, have a career as a bid writer, or are just looking for some tips to help understand the process, we can help you in completing a high-quality bid submission.
A common mistake bid writers often make when bidding is writing. It may sound strange, but there are multiple ways to increase your chances of submitting a winning bid before ever opening Microsoft Word. For example:
- Take time to research the authority who are inviting tenders. Just by visiting their website, reading about their ethos, and reviewing current action plans, priorities and targets, you can get a sense of what their priority will be when it comes to evaluation. This will enable you to align your bid accordingly and maximise your chances of scoring high marks in your bid.
- If you’ve worked on previous tenders for your organisation, have a look at past responses and the associated feedback, and get a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Authorities often provide comprehensive feedback to justify their decision – use this to your advantage.
- Review all documents prior to writing, including the specification, pricing documents and bidding instructions. It is not enough to write persuasive narrative; you must align your responses to the requirements of the specification, and ensure your bid is compliant with the authority’s rules of submission.
- Create detailed answer plans, including win themes for your bid if appropriate. This will focus your writing, keep you on track and ensure all key information is included.
Once you have taken the time to prepare, the content of your responses will naturally improve due to the research undertaken and additional information acquired.
Adapting to changing legislation and priorities
With constant changes to procurement and bidding, it is vital that you adapt the way you approach bid writing to remain ahead of the curve. A winning bid from five years ago may score poorly in 2021, with buyer’s priorities constantly shifting and evolving. An example of this is the recent change issued by the Cabinet Office in Procurement Policy Note 06/20, which, as of 1 January 2021, mandates a minimum of 10% weighting to the total score of a tender to apply to social value.
Another example is the recently released Procurement Policy Note 06/21, which will come into force 30 September 2021, requiring bidding organisations to further evidence their commitment to reducing their impact on the environment.
With significant changes such as these, it is imperative that your organisation takes them into consideration when preparing a bid. Not only will this put you in good stead for future opportunities, but it will increase your chances of a winning bid.
Refreshing your approach
Bid teams and their bid writing can easily become stale and just churn out the same responses time and time again. Whether it is your writing style or your bid process which need looking at, it is necessary to continuously evaluate your bids and tenders, and see whether your approach needs refreshing.
As a bid writing firm, we do not use copy and paste. However for internal bid teams it can be easy to rely on previous answers and just slot them into a new tender submission. This is risky, as a previous response may not fully answer the new question from the contracting authority. In our experience it is important to refresh model answers or create fresh responses for each bid – this is more likely to score you the most marks available.
Looking at your approach to a bid can also improve your writing and your success rate. Review your current bid writing process and look at all stages from start to finish. If there is a stage in the process, such as planning or reviewing, which is currently being overlooked, it may be worth allocating more time to this specific stage to strengthen your approach overall. This can be done regularly as continuous improvement.
The review process
Having your work reviewed by someone else is essential to producing a high scoring bid. Without receiving feedback from a colleague or third party, you will likely miss additional opportunities to score marks.
Whether it’s having someone within your organisation who has experience in writing and submitting tenders, or an external bid writing review service, the review process is arguably the most important stage of bid writing. Reviewers will pick up on areas you have skimmed over, highlight areas where additional information can be detailed, and ensure your response aligns with the specification and answers the question.
You should be constantly striving to improve your bid writing, whether you win or lose. You can arguably learn more from losing a bid than you can from winning, as it will highlight potential gaps in your approach. To continuously improve, you should:
- Review feedback and incorporate it into your writing. If you scored poorly on a response focused on customer liaison, have a look at your organisation’s approach and try to see how you can present processes/procedures more persuasively or, better still, improve your systems as an organisation.
- If you bid frequently, replace older material in your bid library with more recent high-scoring responses. This ties into the ‘adapt’ section above, as older responses may not score as high as they once did.
- Involve others in the bid writing process and identify opportunities to discuss ideas with employees. If you are writing a response on quality control, compliance managers and supervisors will be well versed to assist you on how to respond. Utilise your in-house resources to maximise your chances of winning the bid.
By incorporating some of the tips detailed above into your bid writing, you will see measurable changes in the success of your bids, resulting in more opportunities for your company in the future.
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