Finding your voice

Writing a bid means writing dozens of documents for a wide (and sometimes mysterious) audience. That means employing some basic writing techniques to get the best possible impact out of your proposal. There are some basic strategies for clear bid writing:

  • Be direct and concise.
  • Avoid block text. If it becomes unavoidable, break the page up with images, charts and text-box quotes.
  • Avoid using generic boilerplate sales language. We’ll discuss why below.
  • Words like would, could, might and may reduce the sense of quiet assured confidence in your bid, creating doubt in the mind of the reader.
  • One idea per sentence. What you really should avoid when bid writing is giant run-on sentences full of commas and different notions, that confuse the reader and reduce the flow of the document to a thick viscous sludge that causes the client to struggle for breath like a beached whale, as demonstrated by this sentence. Aren’t you glad that’s over?

Research the client

When writing a bid be client focused and personalised. One company’s non-specific generic boilerplate reads much the same as another’s, and will likely bore the reader. More to the point, a cut and paste job will fail in one of the basic goals of the bid – to demonstrate that the bid writer has a clear understanding of the goals, issues and problems faced by the client.

Determine who the reader of the bid (and its separate sections) will be. Are they informed enough to understand the specifics of your solution or are they seeking to employ you to provide a service with which they are technically unfamiliar? You should also write with personality in mind, even if you know yourself to be writing a bid for a team to read. Pragmatic thinkers will be interested in results, and look for direct language, brevity and the strong use of graphics to quickly illustrate a point. Analytical thinkers will prefer a focus on detail and accurate facts, with charts and graphs.

In general, it is best to avoid lots of Technical Jargon in an Acronym Soup (TJAS), even if you are expecting an informed audience. Anything that slows down reader comprehension will hurt the bid. If the client is using different terminology to that commonly used in your organisation or even your industry, it will normally be best to use their wording.

Given the sheer scale of many bids, applying these ideas can seem like a frightening prospect. Win that Bid can pass the lessons learned over many successful bids to your bid team.

Get Tender Ready with The TROC button today

What Does It Mean?

Get Tender Ready with the TROC todayCompanies that have passed the TROC (Tender Readiness Online Check) or otherwise prequalified to respond to large private or public sector invitations to tender may display this symbol.

What Does It Mean For Tendering Authorities And Procurement Officers?

Public Sector organisations should look for this symbol on SME company websites, because:
  • An SME company displaying THE TROC TENDER READY symbol is indicating that it has met the minimum criteria qualifying it to respond to a Public Sector tender
  • This means that the tendering body can confidently approach the company and invite them to participate in a procurement exercise.
  • Looking for the TROC TENDER READY button will help tendering authorities to meet the Government’s aspiration that ‘25% of public sector contracts should be awarded to SMEs’.

The TROC Tender Ready symbol is a private sector initiative, with no government funding or taxpayers’ money involved.

Companies who have successfully completed and passed a Public Sector PQQ or won a contract within the last TWELVE months should contact info@procurementconnection.org.uk to get their badge and press pack.

It’s up to the both the Private and Public Sectors, as well as the press and other media organisations, to raise awareness of the TROC Tender Ready symbol: it will help procurement officers to identify ‘Tender Ready’ busineeses and therefore help more SMEs to win Public Sector contracts.

Knocked out at PQQ stage? Learn how to get feedback

Writing a tender for the vast majority of public tender contracts in the UK will involve filling out a PQQ. There are plenty of suppliers eager to fill those tender contracts and so the contracting authorities use them to keep the number of tenders they look at manageable. This can raise problems for suppliers that we’ve discussed before.

However, even if you do provide everything requested by the PQQ , it’s still possible to get knocked out at this early stage. It isn’t always easy to find out why you’ve missed out on a contract at the tender stage, let alone the PQQs.  For this reason it is important to know what the regulations are.

Regular 29A of the Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2009 states that a contracting authority must notify an applicant of exclusion from the process. Regulation 32 then clarifies that the contracting authority must provide reasons for this decision, including details of why successful candidates progressed.

It is important to ascertain what went wrong in a failed PQQ so you can use that information the next time you find yourself writing a tender. Win that Bid can help you analyse the feedback you received and help you seize the next opportunity.

Why aren’t your PQQs being shortlisted?

When assisting clients with their pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) you’d be amazed at just how often we see the same mistakes rear their heads time and time again. And if we notice them, you can bet your prospect will too. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation – you know you have to improve your responses, but each practice PQQ is a missed contract and worse still possibly a dent in your reputation.

To help you try to identify where you might be going wrong we’ve decided to let you in on the top 3 PQQ blunders that in our experience prevent suppliers from getting shortlisted:

Strike One: Not proof reading! You’d think this one was obvious. The main culprits are;

  • Concentrating on the narrative questions and not spending enough time on the detail of shorter responses
  • Cutting and pasting text from different drafts
  • And the really embarrassing one, using content from old PQQs and forgetting to change the details!

These kind of mistakes disrupt the flow of reading and can start to distract from what you’re trying to say. And in the case of using copied text from former PQQs they say to the buyer that you aren’t taking them seriously, therefore how on earth will you be able to deliver the contract?

Often clients have proof read their documents, they just haven’t done it well enough or because they have written it struggle to see the wood from the trees.

Tip One: finish your response in good time and ask a colleague to give it a good proof read.

Strike Two: Not taking maximum advantage of your word limit! What a waste! The buyer has given you a set amount of space to tell them about your company, and you leave it blank?! It may be difficult to think of how best to structure your answers, but you should always aim to use as much of the allotted space as you can. Lots of blank space can create the impression that you don’t have much to offer.

Tip Two: Decide what’s important to the buyer in this section. Consider why have they asked this question. What would be the ideal answer?

Strike Three: Not selling your business! It may feel strange to blow your own trumpet so shamelessly but don’t forget this is a competition. The buyer will have a ton of documents to read through and if you don’t convince them that your company is the best then you won’t be shortlisted. If you understate your capabilities and achievements the buyer will reach for the next PQQ, so make sure they know you’re the best.

Tip Three: Before getting into the content, identify your story. Why are you better than your competitors and why should you win this contract. Carry this theme throughout the PQQ.

So there you have it, three simple rules for success. We know that this is only a small part of growing your business, but at times like these every little helps. Every PQQ is important, so don’t waste your chances.

Champagne! CompeteFor celebrates two years of business opportunities.

Hello fellow entrepreneurs. I seem to remember telling you 2010 would be an exiting year. Well, as January is now behind us, it appears we already have a few good reasons to party!

CompeteFor – the chosen website of London 2012 for the publication of Games-related contract opportunities – is celebrating its second birthday. Over 100,000 businesses across the UK have registered on CompeteFor to take advantage of various business opportunities ranging from printing to cleaning and from training to catering services.

CompeteFor’s second birthday saw the 5,000th business opportunity advertised. There are now over 600 ‘buying organisations’ that are placing contract opportunities on the website. Small businesses have been rewarded for thinking big: 74% of contracts awarded have been placed with SME businesses – 18% of them have gone to businesses with 10 or less staff.

And the icing on the cake? The success of CompeteFor has been most felt in London, where local businesses have won almost a third of the contracts awarded so far.

After two years now of Olympics and Paralympics related golden opportunities, there are still over £1 billion worth of Olympic-related contracts to come to the market. So, if you too would like to pop the cork but are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the pre-tendering process, give us a buzz on the Bid phone 0203 405 1850 and we will take care of  everything for you. Now, where’s that ice bucket…

Happy Birthday CompeteFor!!