Winning Tenders Is As Easy As ABC

Have you ever noticed that people’s attention spans seem to be getting shorter?

I’m frequently asked for a one page summary, a two slide presentation or my three top tips.  No-one wants to wade through pages or hours of material.

While it is useful to spend time learning things in a structured way, it is sometimes helpful just to get some brief snippets that are easy to remember and implement.

Here’s my ABC for writing a winning bid.  You will need to adapt the points to suit your situation because each document should be unique (it’s a different product and/or a different client so it has to be a different document) but they good basics rules to keep you on the winning track.

A – All about them       B – Build Trust            C – Conscientious

A is for All About Them

The bid is for your client.  It should be about them, their problem (or opportunity), their timescales and their budgets.  It is not all about you.

Do not start writing about how great you are and all the wonderful things you can do.  Do not try to impress them by showing off.

Talk instead, about how your services fit their requirements.  Explain what your staff will do for them.  Describe how you will deliver their project and how this will help meet their wider objectives.

The client is not interested in the history of your firm.  Nor are they keen to know what else you do.  Only tell them things that are relevant to them.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • Resist the urge to talk about all the exciting things your Health and Safety manager does every day. Tell them what your Health and Safety manager will do on their project and how this impacts on their staff.
  • It may be appropriate to tell people about the longevity of your company but also tell them how this will benefit them. Many people assume that old companies contain dinosaurs and outdated processes, so you must interpret what you write for them.  In an unstable marketplace, you may want to stress that you are a financially stable company which will still exist at the end of a long project.

B is for Build Trust

When writing a bid, proposal or tender, it is difficult to establish the same relationship that you would have if you were dealing face-to-face. Ideally you will have met the client and developed trust prior to writing the document but this is not always possible.  In these cases, you must write material which de-risks the option of selecting you as a supplier.

There are a number of ways of building trust but the easiest is by substantiating any claims you make.

Rather than saying “we deliver high quality work” you could give examples, show results from previous jobs or offer to work to an agreed standard.

Detailing the methods you use or referring to standard processes are good ways to demonstrate competence.  You could describe the checking or monitoring processes that occur and name the person who is responsible.  Another way would be to describe the training that has taken place.

To substantiate your claims, you may want to include quotes or testimonials from other clients.  Most of us would believe an independent third party before we would believe the person trying to sell something!

C is for Conscientious

Points A and B were about what you write, C is about how you write it.

Be conscientious.  Schedule time to work on the project and do not let other priorities derail your plans.  Few people really enjoy writing tenders (we do!) so they tend to put it off and make excuses for not getting started.  This inevitably leads to a last minute rush and mistakes will be made.

Once you have decided to bid for the work, you are going to invest significant resources to produce the bid.  Make sure this time is spent wisely.  A good bid manager will run the tender production in the same way that a project manager runs a project.  Identify tasks and people, set work packages and deadlines, check progress and give feedback.

Ensure everyone understands the importance of the work because a positive mindset is essential to writing winning content.

And finally, be conscientious in your attention to detail.  The client wants to engage with an excellent company, not one who appears slipshod or misses deadlines.  Build time into your programme to review and edit the bid to ensure that the finished article is a document of which you are proud.