Becoming a More Effective Bid Writer

10 Bid Writing Tips

Becoming a More Effective Bid Writer

Tender responses are a painful but important part of the sales process.  Due to the effort and discipline involved many companies either don’t bother or don’t invest enough resource in the process. The following piece highlights a number of areas to pay attention to when submitting a response.

1. Work on your relationships

People listen to those they like and trust.  A good relationship with key decision makers in the procurement process goes a long way to helping understand what they want, what their concerns are, and how they rate your prospects of winning a tender process.  In many cases a good relationship can often influence the content of an invitation to tender and give you a head start in your response.

2. Timetable

Put together an appropriate response timetable that highlights key milestones and factors in a number of opportunities to receive quality assurance from suitable members of the organisation.

3. Assemble a suitable response team

Your response team should consist of subject matter experts – either internal or external – as well as good writers.   In Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson tell us to “Hire great writers….because being a good writer is about more than writing.  Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.  Great writers know how to communicate.  They make things easy to understand.  They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes.  They know what to omit.  And those are qualities you want in any candidate.”

It’s unrealistic to expect everyone on the team to be a good writer, meaning that someone else is going to have to commit an expert’s ideas to paper.

4. Use simple and clear language

Effective bid writing avoids the need for the stiff and turgid language that litters modern day business writing and power point presentations. Keep it simple and lose the adjectives and adverbs.  

5. Nail the solution from the start

It’s unreasonable to expect that the solution presented won’t change during the course of the process but it’s important to have the main elements agreed before writing begins.  Constant tinkering throughout the process leads to considerable rework, rewriting, and heaps of stress.

6. Answer the questions asked and lose the boiler plate

A common complaint from those evaluating tenders is that potential suppliers often respond to what they wish they were asked as opposed to what they were actually asked.  This more often than not leads to low scoring.  

One reason is that respondents will often recycle an answer used in a previous response.  There may be instances where it’s appropriate to use boilerplate but all questions should be answered with the customer and their particular concerns in mind.  Excessive use of boilerplate leads to the sense that the solution proposed is generic and not designed with the customer in mind.  It also conveys a lack of rigor and attention to detail.  

7. Use plenty of diagrams

As disappointing as it may sound, even the best written tender responses are often fairly tough going for the evaluator.  Where possible, and in order to make things clearer and more interesting for the evaluator, use attractive and easy to understand diagrams that complement the written content.

8. Share the Load

Writing is tough and requires a lot of effort.  For large bids the work load should be shared across a number of people.  Leaving the majority of the writing to just a few will lead to a poorly written tender.

9. Finishing

Finishing the document and submitting it either in physical or electronic format is possibly the most stressful part of the entire process.  Agree a time whereby no more quality assurance or tinkering is allowed.  A target finish date at least a day in advance of the actual submission date allows a buffer and a chance to recover in the event of an unforeseen inconvenience.

10. Follow the process to the end

Win or lose, tender responses are a great way to showcase your company.  They help to build profile and trust in the marketplace and give you more insight into potential supplier needs and concerns.  Follow the process right through to the end and if unsuccessful always avail of the opportunity for a debrief in order to learn where you can make improvements.

Hopefully these bid writing tips will help you improve your bid writing approach the next time you have to tender for a government contract.

For more information  about our Public Sector and Government bid consulting services please contact us on the form below.









Related posts

Why Its Dangerous to Judge on Price at the expense of Quality

Lowest Price Procurement

Why It’s Dangerous to Judge on Price at the Expense of Quality The news that the cervical smear test contract was awarded in 2012 based on the lowest price available isn’t surprising. Though the initial award in 2008 and its renewal in 2010 appear to have been based on the “most economically advantageous tender” method

Continue Reading
Winning Government Contracts

Investing to Win

Why You Must Invest to Win Government Contracts Whether or not to invest in new products, systems or processes is a recurring dilemma for all senior management teams. Do you have the resources to hand, and when will you see a payback? Young companies or start-ups know that they need to find the funds to

Continue Reading
Winning a Rebid as an Incumbent

Winning Renewals

Winning a Rebid as an Incumbent What do Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama and Yitzhak Rabin all have in common?  The answer is that all were once the incumbent leaders of their respective countries. Thatcher was ousted in November 1990 after 11 years as Prime Minister and fifteen years as leader of the Conservative Party.  Obama

Continue Reading

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: