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Win more tenders by avoiding these 9 common bid writing mistakes.
The process of bid writing is not for the faint hearted. It’s vital to make sure that each bid you write is the best it can be. There are often small things you can do which have a huge impact into whether you win the bid. At Value Match we have bid management experts who have offered their experience and expertise to give you some tips to improve your bid writing.
1. Bidding for what you can’t win
The most common mistakes often happens before the writing starts. Selecting the right contract is essential to giving yourself the best chance of winning. Here are a few things to consider:
1.1. Don’t bid too big
Bidding for the largest contract you find can be tempting. However, as a rule you should bid for contracts 1/3 the value of your turnover. More than this could cause the buyer to exclude you. You should understand how this will be assessed to ensure you meet the criteria before proceeding with your bid.
1.2 Check your compliance!
This is an easy mistake to make, but it can cost time and money. Before starting the bid, always check the specification for compliance requirements: Policies, Procedures,, Accreditation, Experience. If you do not meet the tender requirements, you’re not compliant and you’ll be unlikely to win.
1.3 Can you complete the work?
It is also important to consider whether you can handle the workload. Reflect on whether you can cover all contract requirements. Do you have sufficient knowledge and experience? Can you make time for it in your current schedule? If you cannot accommodate the new work, you may not want to continue.
2. Not answering the question
Don’t rush into writing, carefully read the question and carefully consider what it’s asking. Always plan your response with the question in mind, if there is a marketing criterion, stick to it.
When you create your response, constantly refer to the question and specification. Make sure you answer the question that is asked.
3. Needless small talk and irrelevance
One of the most harmful things to bid writing is small talk. By putting yourself in the shoes of your bid reader. They will have read hundreds of bids; they don’t need long page upon page of long-winded explanations.
A good way to avoid this is to have your work reviewed by fresh eyes. A second opinion will help separate the winning work from the boring waffle.
4. Not referring to the specification
Make sure to constantly consider the contract specification as you write your responses. You may be putting forward some great information, but it may not be what the buyer wants to hear. Of course, you should present value adds, but make sure they’re relevant and focus on the core requirements in the first instance.
Make sure you’re addressing the contract requirements – have you explained how you will meet them all? Be thorough – you don’t want to miss anything.
5. Too much copy-paste
If you have completed bids in the past, referring to your old responses can be a useful starting point. However you must be VERY careful to avoid copy and pasting past bid content, but if you must, consider these points:
Does it answer the question?
Is it relevant to the contract requirements?
Have you removed all details of previous clients? – Referring to the wrong company is a sure-fire way to lose you marks.
6. Bad value-adds
You must make sure to add as much value as possible to your responses. Go beyond the stated requirements to demonstrate why you’re the best. Tell the buyer what you can offer beyond the scope of service – social initiatives, additional services, innovations and so on.
Your value adds should be relevant to the service, however. Ask yourself whether they effectively ‘add value’ to your proposal and to the customer (will your value add offering help the customer deliver any of their own initiatives?) – if they don’t, then re-think your response. You should read the contract specification and think of initiatives which complement the requirements.
7. Focusing on ‘We’ rather than ‘You’
A common mistake in bid writing is a reliance on the word ‘we’. When you find yourself using ‘We’ at the start of every sentence, you should maybe consider that you’re talking about yourself more than the buyer and their requirements. The aim of a successful bid is to tell the buyer how you can benefit them.
8. Lack of detail
In bid writing, detail is everything. Every sentence you write should not only refer to the question but be packed with facts. Each statement you make must be substantiated. Back-up your points and your promises. Show evidence and offer proof where possible. If the buyer knows they can trust you, they will be more likely to contract with you. This style of writing helps cut down on needless waffle and irrelevance.
9. Too little, too late.
Both small and large businesses struggle with leaving work last minute and can massively affect your chances of success.
With there being no certainty of winning, it’s more challenging for businesses to assign the necessary resources needed to give it a strong chance of success. The difficulties in writing a submission, and the time it takes to do so, are often underestimated. Ensure you prepare a plan as soon as you receive the bid timeline so you can allocate resources effectively to prepare a high quality response.
Read how we created a clear and compelling bid for a specialist audio and visual company in our case study here.
For further information, contact Lindsay Rosul
T: 07702 823 648