In this blog post we take a look at what makes a bid writer successful, and the key skills and attributes that are necessary for the job.
Within a firm, a bid writer can come in many guises: the sales and marketing team, business development manager, contracts manager or even the managing director. A lot of people complete bids alongside their day job, or it might be that a number of different members of staff are involved in the bid and tender process, and responsibility is shared out. Being a bid writer is a complex job that requires a specific skill set, in order to have a high success rate and secure contracts for your company.
Attention to detail
Whether it is trawling through a 30-page tender specification, spotting a key phrase or instruction, or completing a data section of a PQQ, attention to detail is a key trait when you are writing a bid. The bidding process is heavily compliance-driven, and a small mistake in a bid can be the difference between a pass and a fail.
A key part of bid writing is:
- Reviewing and continuously checking both your submission and the specification and ensuring that the two are consistent.
It is common for companies to make the mistake of copying and pasting narrative in tender submissions because they have bid into the same authority previously or have written a couple of high scoring tenders. It is important always to pay attention to the specification and evaluation criteria of your individual PQQ or tender and make sure your response is tailored accordingly and, ultimately, that it answers the question. Otherwise, unfortunately, you will lose marks for a generic bid.
Organise your bid team (or yourself)
If you do not have a bid team, the same still applies — make sure you are organised! PQQs and tenders are always time-sensitive, and typically have a 3–4 week turnaround time. From the moment you identify the opportunity and decide that you are going to bid for it, you need to put timescales and mini deadlines in place so that your bid stays on track and progress is monitored. A successful bid is unlikely to be rushed and left to the last minute — we understand in reality that this is sometimes the case due to circumstances, but it is important to plan and schedule your bid writing as much as possible.
A bid writer needs to take into account not only the actual writing of the PQQ or tender submission, but reading all the documentation, writing plans that include any relevant win themes, pricing schedules, reviewing, proof reading, and actually uploading and submitting the bid. If it is a particularly large tender, admin tasks can be time consuming and it is vital to factor in time to complete this, otherwise you risk submitting a non-compliant bid and possibly failing.
Powers of persuasion
When writing a bid, your goal is to persuade the contracting authority that you are the right company to deliver the contract, at the right price. So, how is this achieved? You need to use persuasive language to showcase your firm’s strengths, capabilities and innovations. If there are word or character limits outlined, ensure you make full use of them and include as much information as you feel is necessary to put forward your point. Your narrative then needs to be backed up by evidence: statistics, case studies and relevant examples are all good ways to quantify your narrative and strengthen your tender.
Evaluate your own bid submission
Schedule in time after the writing process to review your work and evaluate whether there are any weaknesses or areas for improvement in your submission. If possible, it is a good idea to look at your main competitors and try to gauge what they might have included in their submission — are there any particular strengths or capabilities that are known in the market? If so, then make sure to cover these areas so that you don’t lose marks.
Put yourself into the evaluator’s shoes. Would you really award a contract (possibly worth millions) to a company who hadn’t fully persuaded you that they carry minimal risk and can deliver the service to a high standard? The answer is no, you wouldn’t! So make sure that you instil confidence in the buyer that your company is the best for the job.
Bid Writing Tips
For more advice, see our tender writing tips video below: