Being a bid writer can be a difficult task; short deadlines, large projects, a disconnection from other areas of the business, high pressure to secure that new contract – to name a few of the pressures!
In this blog post we take a look at a few top tips to ensure your bid writing is successful, and the key skills and attributes that are necessary for the job.
1. Make a bid/no-bid decision
Before planning a submission you should always consider whether your company has the required experience, technical capability and competence to deliver the contract. Assess your company honestly against the questions asked, the service specification and evaluation criteria. If you can win the contract then bid; if not, do not bid, and save time, money and resources. It is important to be selective and know when to make the difficult decision not to submit a bid; when you know you are going to struggle to win or it doesn’t fit with your organisation’s strategy.
The mantra of ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is never more true than when undertaking a PQQ or tender submission. When you proceed with a submission, plan every detail carefully and efficiently so that the writing process can begin as soon as possible. This includes planning who will answer each response, what information is required and what supporting documents are needed. Giving realistic timescales to each stage helps to manage the process and ensure submission in good time before the deadline.
3. Use expert knowledge within the company
To enable more informed and detailed responses within your company use relevant experts to respond to specific sections of the submission. For example, it is best practice for a health and safety advisor or consultant to complete a health and safety section, ensuring that accurate and relevant information is provided. From our experience too many companies ask someone internal to complete submissions who does not have enough subject-matter knowledge, often asking them to compile responses of which they have limited experience. In addition, by effectively planning each section writer’s writing time you can help to obtain 100% focus on the required responses in conjunction with their other work duties.
4. Review and update all supporting documents and case studies
High-quality narrative responses are only effective when paired with relevant and updated supporting documents and case studies. Therefore, before writing any responses consider what documents and examples will augment them and check that these are suitable for use. This includes keeping a library of case studies, which should be frequently added to; and ensuring that documents such as certificates are in date. Where required, request more recent copies of all materials from relevant staff, so you can project the most professional image of your company.
5. Follow bid guidelines
Reading the service specification, evaluation criteria and all submission guidance during the planning stage helps to direct your submission accordingly. By being aware of all submission requirements and timescales; the points to hit within each question; and page, font, word and character limits, you can ensure that you meet all requirements and ensure full compliance. If you do not understand these requirements, you might waste time and resources and risk failing the submission.
6. Respond to the buyer’s questions, not the question you want to answer
In our experience lot of bid writers construct their tender responses from how they want to answer and how they read the questions, but it is important to remember you are answering questions from the buyer. Delve deeper into the buyer’s strategic aims, what they value as important, and their ultimate goals, to ensure your bid is aligned in the same way and meets all the requirements and more. When reading back your responses, do they answer the question?
Like the above point, if a contracting authority has specified a word or page limit, try to use as much of this as you can. We see a lot of bid responses that are too thin in terms of content – just remember what your competitor might be including in the space you are underutilising.
7. Quality assurance
Good quality assurance underpins all PQQ and tender submissions and ensures that the assessor is given a high quality, professional and cogent response which provides reassurance of your abilities. After all required responses have been drafted, having your submission reviewed by someone who has had no involvement in the process is the only true way of ensuring that the responses flow, provide all the relevant information clearly, and answer the questions. Having an impartial proof reader adds further quality assurance and provides sense, spelling and grammar checks. Remember that a professional and error-free submission is more likely to win, so spend time undertaking these measures.
8. Learn from your mistakes
Request feedback from all bid submissions, successful or not, to understand and evaluate what scored well and what didn’t. Don’t just ignore a topic or question that you are performing poorly in. As a bid writer this might be something you need to approach your organisation with to make fundamental changes in the business.
For instance, social value is an increasingly popular topic in tenders, which shows no signs of slowing down. If you are not scoring very well in this area it isn’t good enough to keep doing what you are currently doing. Your organisation might need to revisit its overall initiatives in order to meet the standards of local authorities (and also your competitors).
9. Use a professional bid writing consultant
The easiest way in which to guarantee a high-quality response is to use an external bid writing consultant, a professional who is experienced at bid writing and in converting your knowledge and experience into a winning submission. This will allow you to focus on running your business, whilst quality assuring the finished product to ensure it conveys your company’s message and abilities.
We are experienced in helping companies successfully bid for contracts, as well as improving their success rate. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
Bid Writing Tips
For more advice, see our tender writing tips video below:
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