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7 Common Proposal Writing Mistakes

Executive Compass Branding

When we review submissions completed by companies we often come across the same errors time and again.

We have reviewed thousands of PQQs and tenders over the years and it is amazing how many people make the same mistakes. Because of this we have decided to put together a list of the most common errors we have found:

  • 1. Not being compliant

It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many times we find this. Many companies find a contract they know they can deliver and go about writing the submission without checking if they are compliant.

At the very least companies have to have been trading for at least three years, and in most cases there is a minimum turnover requirement that must be met. Other compliance areas may include policies and procedures, accreditations or previous contract experience.

Before tender writing, always make sure that your company is fully compliant or there is no point carrying on.

  • 2. Not using the specification

The specification is there for a reason – it is your guide to completing the document and gaining the most marks. It is more than just a simple guideline, it is the key to securing the contract.

If you read the specification carefully you can pick out points that you must hit in order to gain top marks. Being able to decipher the specification is a skill that takes time and experience. But once you know what to look for you will find your success rate increase rapidly.

  • 3. We-ing

We often find when we review tenders that we are seeing one word over and over, and we are constantly amazed how many companies we work with do this.

Yes, that’s right – WE. It is not just a pet peeve of our managing director, but a common mistake that can cost your company. In many cases it is a sign that your submission is focussed on the wrong area. Try to focus instead on the client and the specific contract.

  • 4. Failing to add value

With huge competition for contracts it is not enough to simply ‘meet the requirements’, you need to add value.

You need to prove that you are the right company for the job and will add great value to the specified service. Whether this is creating jobs, working in the community or including additional services, evaluators are always looking for added value.

  • 5. Using copy and paste

This is a big no. Copy and pasting both from previous submissions and across different answers is a common mistake that results in an average submission and a lost tender.
As a company we have a rule against copy and paste. If you must re-use old content, it needs to be re-written and updated.

  • 6. Not having someone else review the submission

This is potentially the biggest mistake. When one person completes a submission they become familiar with it and can no longer see the errors, be it spelling or content.

Having someone else review the submission will remove any grammatical errors and will add a new perspective to the document. Good ideas come from peer reviews.

  • 7. Not requesting feedback

Finally, regardless of whether it is a winning or losing bid, always request feedback. This is the key to future success. Feedback will inform you of both your strengths and weaknesses and allows you to create a strong bid library for future submissions.

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

0203 507 0314 or direct to mobile: 07590 276 006