Inserting pages of very detailed terms and conditions to an otherwise concise bid can create a very negative impression with the client.
Although it depends on the sector in which you work, it is rarely a good idea to append these to a proposal.
It is more common to wait until the client is interested in buying before discussing terms, especially if some areas are negotiable.
When writing a winning bid, you need to justify the price you intend asking.
Delivering the client’s stated requirements will only command an average price; to charge more you must describe what else they will get.
This can be anything the client values and might cover areas such as risk-avoidance, increased scope or exemplar service.
Subheadings are helpful for readers who are trying to digest large quantities of text.
The subheadings should provide signposts which summarise the contents of the sections which follow.
Try to use informative and/or positive titles such as ’24 Week Programme with 10% Contingency’ or ‘Experienced Project Team’.
When pitching for work, there are different names for the documents you produce: these include tender, proposal and bid.
A tender usually responds to specific questions as part of a rigid procurement process, while a proposal or bid tends to be more flexible in structure and format.
There is no finite definition for each term and the golden rule is always to mirror the terminology used by the potential client.
The later stages of some projects cannot be defined either in terms of technical scope, resource or price until the earlier stages are complete.
When tendering for this type of project, it is important that you reduce the uncertainty to the buyer as much as possible.
While it is important that you retain flexibility for your own company, try to remember that the objective of the tender is to de-risk the selection process for the buyer.
There is a proverb about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day or teaching him to fish and feeding him for life.
Engaging a consultant to help write a single tender is a short-term fix which may be effective. It is usually quite expensive.
Effective training, which is tailored to the needs of the individual and the company, equips people with the skills and confidence they need to write winning tenders. The cost is usually less than £200 per person per day.
Some tender formats can be very prescriptive as they dictate the space, font size and typeface that can be used.
To avoid your answer becoming a ‘wall of words’, try to be creative with the inclusion of tables, jpeg images and bullet points.
If the formatting prevents the use of these graphics, you can still make good use of spaces and headings to create natural breaks in the text.
We all know that long-winded and rambling responses are not going to score well.
Evaluators like succinct, well-structured answers that describe the service or process and the benefit it will deliver along with addressing any possible concerns they may have.
To do this you must provide adequate detail and not over-condense a response so that it just becomes a curt, factual summary.
I am sure many of you have decided that ‘things will be different’ for the next tender.
It is common to resolve to be more efficient, learn from feedback, write more concisely and/or plan more effectively.
January is a good time to put new processes in place so think about where you can improve and make the necessary changes before the next tender comes along.
A good bid library contains multiple well-referenced documents including stock answers, CVs and policy documents.
The generic material must be topped and tailed to make it specific to the opportunity, however having captured the core material ahead of time, this task becomes relatively straightforward.
Why not take a day in early January to review your library?
Successful companies know how long it takes to prepare, write and review a typical tender section or answer.
This allows them to estimate the inputs required when a new opportunity arrives and to resource the tasks appropriately.
It enables informed decisions to be taken about the availability of staff and to avoid last-minute panics.
If you lose a bid the feedback you get may be very limited, particularly when dealing with the private sector.
You will probably be told you lost “on price” as this is the easiest way for the client to avoid any further discussion.
When you follow-up you should ask about specific sections so you are more likely to get meaningful feedback.