How To Win Bids and Tenders

Wondering how to go about winning bids and tenders? Writing first-class bids isn’t an exact science – but at Win That Bid, we’ve got the expertise to help you secure your dream contracts with ease.

Top Ten Tips for Winning Tenders

1.    Be thorough: answer every question in the bid document – missing out a couple of vital questions can lose you the entire bid.

2.    Know your marketplace (competitors & pricing): spend time researching your competitors and understand their pricing prior to the bid writing process.

3.    Appeal to your reader: offer persuasive, benefit-led responses and think about the customer – what’s important to them? What are they looking for in their supplier?  Don’t simply provide a list of features – if you want to win tenders, take your responses one step further and state the benefits.

4.    Have a model: build a library of standard PQQ and tender responses – save documents such as insurance certificates, policies and yearly accounts in one place that is easily accessible by others in the company.

5.    Outdo yourself: don’t leave your tender until the last minute – make sure that you have dedicated ample time and resources to produce the best possible result. If you can’t submit your best effort for this bid, why you are submitting at all?

6.    Be decisive: make a conscious decision to bid – if you are tendering ‘just because’, this is not the recipe for a winning bid.

7.    Discriminate: can you deliver this tender? Do you want to win this bid? If you win, what will happen to your other contracts? Make sure you’re bidding for business you really want.

8.    Understand the bid requirements – and adhere to them.

9.    Know your audience: read the bid evaluation criteria – what’s most important to the customer?

10.  Be proactive: engage with the customer – being invited to bid is a compliment, and likely to put your submission in a stronger position than a cold response.

 

Need some help winning that dream contract?

Call us today to discuss how we can help you win more business

How to Write a First-Class Business Proposal

Bid Writing Services

Embarking upon a new business prospect can be daunting – but it shouldn’t be. The key is to deliver a pitch that gives your prospective client or customer no choice but to accept, and the fact of the matter is that there really is a formula for winning bids. Writing outstanding proposals takes a wealth of business acumen and a great deal of character – and we have all the techniques you’ll need for maximum impact.

Behold the ultimate guide to effective proposal writing.

Rule #1: Romance them.

One of the most important things to remember when constructing a winning proposal is that your future clients want to hear everything they already know about themselves, coming from you. Start by giving them the full preliminary research treatment so that you are going into this with all the facts.

By knowing not only what they are and what they want but also what they need to progress in their industry, you can push all the right buttons and create an instant feeling of being understood.

Rule #2: Take ‘no’ off the table.

This may seem somewhat obvious, but presenting your future clients with a proposal that refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer is an excellent way of avoiding having to take ‘no’ for an answer. This is easier than you might think – the key is to close your proposal with a feeling that what you are offering them poses only benefits and they’d be very foolish to pass on your business. Profitability is what is really going to sell your offering.

Rule #3: Show them the money.

Repeat: profitability is what is really going to sell your offering. As a business professional, you will of course know that money talks – and the same is true when writing your business proposal. For all flattery and strategising may prove effective persuasive tools, there’s nothing that tempts prospective clients like monetary benefits. If the bottom line of your pitch really stresses to them that you’re going to make them a more profitable business, how can any they possibly turn you down?

Rule #4: Shut off the conveyor belt.

While it may be somewhat tempting to recycle elements of previous proposals during the bid writing process, you should at all costs avoid giving any desirable client a conveyor belt proposal – put simply, an impersonal copy & paste job. Sprinkling your proposal with personal touches and demonstrating a real understanding of their values and goals is a guaranteed way to keep them reading. It is a universal truth that everyone’s favourite word is their own name – and the same is true of businesses. Switch out multi-purpose mission statements for genuine brand knowledge and you will have one very engaged reader.

Rule #5: Create urgency.

Of course it’s true that whoever you are writing a proposal for is the object of your desire – at least for the duration of the bid writing process – but it certainly doesn’t hurt to be bold, even in the midst of your pitch. The idea is to (subtly) suggest that this is a time-sensitive offer which has a very real expiry date – and subsequently persuade them to take action as quickly as possible. Approaching a business proposal with this kind of confidence is a very smart move which could put you in a powerful position.

Rule #6: Be their hero.

And last but not least, the ultimate business proposal strategy is to establish yourself as a problem solver. Identify the obstacles the company faces and then instantly address ways to overcome them (backed up with actionable strategies and measurable targets). If they can see that you know exactly where they are lacking and can fill in those gaps quickly and successfully, you can just about guarantee that you win that bid.

At Win that Bid, we’re experts in bid writing and can help you secure your dream contracts. By writing positively irresistible proposals, you can engage and win potential clients with ease – and we’ll get you there.

How to Win UK Government Tenders

The UK coalition government is committed to putting more work out to government tenders. It’s already an enormous market, with £7.6bn being spent by central government alone, which means public tenders in the UK offer a precious opportunity to grow your business.

More UK government bids than ever:

Adding to that outsourcing pressure is the new localism bill that aims to force local authorities in the UK to procure more than 25% of its business from local companies through government contracts. UK opportunities are good – there are more UK government tenders to go for, and that’s all before we consider tendering in Europe.

Which UK government tenders would you like to win?

Our advice is always to play to your strengths. Use government tenders to bolster your strongest business, not to try and open up new markets.

Finding UK government contracts

For UK government tenders we recommend Tenders Direct. It’s comprehensive, free to search for public tenders, UK based, and shows the last year of tender opportunities so you can get an idea of what’s possible. For a quick calculation, think in terms of getting shortlisted for one in three public sector tenders and then winning 60% of those (assuming we’ve selected and written the tender).

Tenders Direct isn’t free (you can, however, save £150 using our promotion code here) but they save you time by manually filtering the public sector tender opportunities you receive.

UK government bidding project management

Use our bid management service to help you win government tenders in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Because successfully winning public tenders is partly about selecting the right tenders, we then manage that stream of tender opportunities on your behalf, usually under a 10 or 20 per annum Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) bid management service.

We maintain a library of your key documents such as insurance and policies, ensuring we only spend time on key points of difference when completing a tender document. Effective bid management is about managing time and resources.

To win UK government contracts, use experienced people

If you just need someone to organise the initial stage of your bidding process, you can take over from here. However, our bid writers have a minimum of 15 years’ experience and most have come from the procurement world and know many of the buyers and organisations – so we can help with all stages of winning a bid through invitation to tender (ITT), right to the final presentation.

In these later stages it’s very important to know the buying organisation – their culture, policies, and supply chain. Here we have a head start, because our experienced team knows the government buyers and their scoring methodologies, so we are able to help you create content that presses the right buttons.

(If you are working on larger or more numerous bids, it’s worth knowing that – as the biggest tendering consultancy in the UK, we can provide extra muscle as and where you need it.)

For professional bid management, to improve your win ratio, or when you need more skilled resource while tackling government tenders, call Win That Bid on 0203 405 1850 or email us at hello@winthatbid.com.

Creating a successful bid schedule

It’s possible to “wing” a bid if you consider early onset heart palpitations to be an acceptable business expense. If for some reason that isn’t desirable (or you want to win), bid writers should have a properly constructed schedule. You might live to win another bid!

What should the bid schedule account for?

The bid schedule should account for several major elements:

  • when are activities scheduled?
  • who is responsible for carrying them out?
  • which elements of the project are behind schedule or at risk?

It should also provide some flexibility at the end of the project. Submitting a bid is a time consuming and sometimes stressful process – bid portals can be temperamental and each dimension requires checking before the final submission. Time will be required for final proof-reading, formatting, late clarifications and other unexpected issues.

Clear lines of responsibility make it easier for any member of the team to understand where to go for information. At the same time, it also helps to avoid the most frustrating of delays; bid writers inadvertently duplicating each other’s work.

What are your project milestones?

Milestones are significant project events on which to build specific tasks around. Each task and its associated timeline can be tracked by the Project or Bid Manager (who might not be familiar with the specifics of each task). Each milestone is associated with a deliverable which provides evidence that the milestone has been completed.

When choosing your milestones, use the terminology stated in the bid documentation. Milestones should be discussed and signed off at the kick-off meeting by all stakeholders prior to the bid schedule being populated with tasks.

What are your dependencies?

Dependencies are points in the project where a problem with one aspect will affect other areas of the problem. Internal dependencies can be dealt with and identified within the team. External dependencies, out of the bid writer’s control, should be identified when assembling the schedule so that those responsible (a consultancy or accountancy firm, for instance) are aware of their own responsibilities and place in the schedule. Identify ownership of the dependency and place a milestone in the schedule to make it easy to check their status at any time.

How do you know how long things will take?

This is often a matter of experience and process but following these guidelines can help:

  • build in a contingency for unexpected issues;
  • set page/word limits. This will allow you to assess writing, assembling and review periods;
  • agree on style and writing conventions at the earliest opportunity, ideally at the kick-off meeting; and
  • ensure the bid team has a thorough understanding of the project’s win themes.

In particular, the latter two elements can really speed up the drafting process. Bid writers will have a much easier time writing a draft around themes rather than trying to crowbar them into an existing document.

Remember to plan for time consuming events which may have implications for the project even if no-one is actually working on them (such as acquiring permits or letters of support). Projected dates for acquiring or finishing these matters should be placed into the schedule, especially if they create some kind of chokepoint.

Post project, assess the processes you used and the success of the bid schedule. If it all seems like too much hard work give Win that Bid a call: they’ll be create your bid documentation and can manage the entire process.

Choosing a bid management consultancy

There are many reasons for recruiting a bid management consultancy:

  • The next tender is a must win contract
  • You want to improve your bid writing capabilities
  • You are short of bid management resource or a Bid Director
  • You need to find the best contract opportunities
  • Your Win Rate is simply not where you want it to be

Writing and managing a bid for a commercial contract or a local authority tender can be a daunting prospect, demanding skills that your company may not have needed before. However, hiring a bid management consultancy represents an additional cost, so what should you look for when choosing?

Find Tenders

It may be that you want to find the best contract opportunities for your business. Find bid writers who know their way around the arcane tender websites to find contracts for tender in whichever industry you are involved in, from construction contracts to public sector tenders. Moreover, find a bid writer who will be honest when assessing your capabilities and chances of success. There’s no point in wasting precious time and money applying for tender contracts you can’t win.

Bid Writing

Writing bids is a complex and time consuming process. Find bid writers who have years or decades of practice in assembling bid proposals, who understand the art of tender document templates and win themes and the most effective use of language. Search out bid writers with experience of public sector tendering as both bid writer and procurement officer, with detailed insider knowledge of the UK tender process. A good consultancy will vastly increase the pool of skills available to any company tendering for contracts.

Bid Management

Managing a bid is an enormous undertaking often involving months of work. Many stakeholders and hundreds of documents require co-ordination. Look for veteran bid managers and Directors with reputable accreditation (APMP or similar) and many years of understanding in how to win tenders. Find bid managers or Bid Directors who know how to deal with the inevitable crises and problems, and are willing to work out of hours to fix them.

How to Win Bids

Bid consultants don’t just have to write your bid; they can also transform your capabilities. Training sessions can show your staff how to tender for contracts and greatly improve their processes. They can help assemble the necessary documents and skills to get those local government tenders or commercial opportunities. Properly trained and experienced bid consultants can help you win that tender contract even if they are not involved in the actual process, by transferring their skills and experience to your team.

Win that Bid

Win that Bid possesses all of the qualities and experience needed to help you win that tender contract. Our multi-sector bid management specialists have worked across the industry and in procurement, and used those skills to transform the capabilities – and bottom line of many organisations. From training to bid writing, Win that Bid today!

The economics of the sandwich

Lothian and Borders Police has come in for a bit of ridicule lately, following news that they had issued an incredibly complex PQQ describing their sandwich needs in pedantic detail. Other recent stories include complaints about construction tenders with over one hundred questions and extremely high accreditation requirements. These can seem like impossible hurdles for public sector bid writers. The solutions don’t seem immediately obvious: after all, a few weeks before the newspapers ran their story about sandwiches-by-committee, they ran a different story about widespread (and viscerally detailed!) complaints among the police about the standard of catering in the organisation. Lothian and Borders Police clearly felt they needed to respond with stringent quality requirements in their tender contracts!

How can companies cope with these problems?

It is worth complaining to the government’s mystery shopper program if you find yourself confronted with a public sector tender PQQ request that seems insurmountable for anyone other than an established supplier. Blanket requests for ISO accreditation or similar is probably the most common stumbling block for tender writers. In particular, companies tendering for contracts in the environmental sector have a real problem with ISO14001, which is time consuming and expensive to implement.

The good news is that the Cabinet Office has already taken action to provide alternatives: An example would be that of TUCO, the University Catering Organisation, which was asked to review its PQQ requirements after complaints that it asked too much in ISO accreditation from suppliers. Obviously, procurers have a right to ask for guarantees that their tenders will be fulfilled: now they are simply being asked to provide alternative ways of providing those guarantees. Most of the irreconcilable problems surrounding public sector tender PQQs will relate to the council’s transparency requirements.

Bid writers going for government tenders in the UK should not be afraid to make complaints about poorly written PQQs or confusing requirements. In recent months Win that Bid has seen some particularly egregious examples of poorly constructed PQQs – the inexperienced procurement team in Northern Ireland is a particular offender! This is something that the government seems genuinely intent on changing. In the meantime, it is important to pick the right tender for your business, and Win that Bid can help you find tenders.

Getting the Basics Right

The basic strategy for getting through complex public sector tenders is to be prepared for them in advance. After a few UK tender bids a bid writer will have a library of policies and documents ready to go. It’s worth getting started on building that library now so you can be ready to take the next big opportunity – one thing you really need to avoid is going in unprepared and rushing to hand in the bid at the last minute. To help you along, Win that Bid’s bid management service can advise you on putting together everything you’ll need.

Tender Writing Insights: The Devil is in the Detail

When it comes to completing PQQs or tender writing the devil is often in the detail especially the closer you get to the submission deadline.

Take for example a company Win That Bid worked with a few years ago. The PQQ was for a contract with the Irish Government. At short notice, the client had asked us to complete the tender writing part of the PQQ and help them develop their win themes. All very straightforward and as often happens on the final day we worked onsite to ready the submission which included the PQQ submission itself and all associated documentation such as insurance certificates, health & safety policy, accounts, etc. Job complete we left the client’s office. Some weeks later we received news the PQQ had been unsuccessful, the reasons; the health & safety policy hadn’t been signed and the the insurance certificates weren’t included. How could this be? We knew they were in the pack before we left. It turned out the secretary in charge of sending the PQQ to Dublin with two days until the deadline automatically put it in the normal post. On realising the error of her ways she quickly printed out the pack again and sent it by courier. Of course this was the first submission received as well as the one which arrived prior to the deadline and therefore was the one marked by the procurement team.

The moral of the story – do not leave your tender writing and PQQ submission until the last minute whether its submitted by post or via an online portal. From the off, create a timetable of deliverables to lead you to two or three days prior to submission and build in some slack.

For all your PQQ, tender writing or bid co-ordination needs contact hello@winthatbid.com or give us a call on 0203 405 1850.

Tender Writing Insights: Managing Online Tender Portals

Recently, some of the Win That Bid team completed a large and complex bid involving the public sector portal ‘Bravo’. There are hundreds of online procurement portals around all with their own language and foibles. However, there are some basic principles that can help you when, with that deadline looming, you find yourself wrestling desperately trying to submit your online tender.

Access

Know your login details and ensure you have the correct level of user access

Having spent weeks or months with your head buried in the tender writing documentation, the time has arrived to upload your submission. And if you’ve forgotten your login details or do not have a sufficient level of access let’s hope you haven’t realised this too late i.e. out of working hours, during busy periods or just prior to the deadline. Online help will only get you so far so if it’s a human being you need to speak to then make sure you do so in advance.

Utilise quieter periods

Early mornings, late nights, weekends and Bank Holidays are ideal

The majority of your competitors will leave their tender writing and submission to the last minute. The risk here is that the portal will time out due to the sheer volume of documents being uploaded. The Win That Bid team who worked on this latest bid submitted documents as they were completed, and in some cases as far as two weeks in advance. They also made use of early mornings, late nights and the Easter holidays.

Upload larger documents first

Larger documents take longer

As larger documents take longer to upload start with them first. This is especially the case with heavy document based tender portals such as Bravo that may not have a limit on the amount of tender documents you are allowed to submit.

Save, save, check, check again and save

Don’t get timed out or caught out

Tender portals will usually time out after 15 minutes of being dormant. Make sure to hit save as soon as you’ve uploaded your latest documents.

Once you have finished uploading go back and check all questions have been answered and all documents have been uploaded. Often you can print the documents list from the portal and more than often you will find there is at least one document missing. Never assume a document has saved.

And if it’s all too much outsource your tender writing, bid and document management to the 2am wrestling experts at Win That Bid.

Tender checklist – Reviewing you tender

Once you have written your tender the importance of reviewing it cannot be overstated.  Although you may feel sure that you have met all specifications these mistakes are among the most common reasons for bids being rejected.  Here is a checklist to help.

  • Be critical of what you have written, there is always room for improvement.
  • Make sure everything included is consistent.  When cutting and pasting text have any formatting changes arisen?
  • Have you used uniform and correct font, size and formatting throughout?  Does the style and order of your document meet with the requirements?
  • Seek written permission if you want to include any additional information about your company which is relevant and may help your bid.  Add these as appendices.
  • Number your paragraphs and ensure the accuracy of your contents page so everything can be easily located.
  • Create a front cover with the project title, date, name of organisation requesting the tender and the name of your own organisation.
  • Confirm that there are signatures wherever required, by the correct member of your company.
  • Once you feel sure that you have completed the document hand it to a colleague to check for spelling, punctuation, grammar and meaning
  • Consider getting the document professionally printed and bound if the client has requested it in hard copy.

Tender Writing: Your proposal checklist

Proposal Checklist – Preparing to write your proposal submission

Now that you have thought about how your company will handle the tendering process, it is time to think about writing the tender itself.  There are things you should consider, and information you should gather, before beginning to write so you create the best document you are capable of.

  • What do you know about your client?  This information can be extremely useful in knowing how to pitch your document.  Perhaps the client is looking for particular benefits, for example price or level of service.
  • Make sure you are not just there to test the market or to make up numbers.  You may even want to think about requesting your customers sign a non-disclosure agreement before presenting.  This will help to ensure any ideas or information you wish to protect remains yours.
  • If you are bidding for something the customer has previously received from someone else, what can you learn from the service provided by the current or previous supplier?  You are allowed to ask the customer about this and it may help lend more insight into how to fit your bid to their needs.
  • Make sure you have all the latest information from your team, are you up to date with all the work your they have been doing on the bid?
  • Have you collected all of the relevant documents and information you will need when writing your bid, in particular, your quotation?
  • Read all the requirements and follow the instructions to the letter.  It may surprise you to learn that lots of bids are rejected simply for not complying with the instructions.  (Or it may not surprise you at all, if yours has been one of them!)
  • Remember you’re in competition.  It may help to think about what you would consider if a company was bidding to you.