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.

 

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Winning Over the Public (Sector)

The public sector is a highly diverse industry, where tendering rarely fits into a predefined box. The range of tenders is as varied and wide as the different public sector organisations themselves. However, there are a few common factors to consider when aiming for public sector contracts. The multi-billion pound public sector industry is experiencing a period of growth with government backing, meaning that your business can stand to seriously benefit from a slice of the public sector pie.

Public Sector

 

Parallel Thinking

Public sector industries tend to be under a great deal of social scrutiny, particularly when it comes to environmental factors or legislative considerations which are ingrained in the public sector, such as health and safety. It is essential in public sector tendering that your bid highlights your strengths in these areas, and that you share the same core values which are of importance to the client.

A strong organisational fit between the client and contractor is vital, especially during evaluation stages. The contractor’s ability to work well and integrate with the client’s approach can have a strong influence on the ultimate success of the bid.

MEAT

Although the bottom line price will always play a significant role in bidding success, it should not be confused with value. Public sector organisations are under a magnifying glass of scrutiny, and rightfully, must justify spending taxpayer’s money. By stipulating MEAT as the goal in selecting a contractor, public sector clients can navigate around being forced to accept the lowest price in favour of inferior work. MEAT stands for Most Economically Advantageous Tender and essentially translates to value for money. When it comes to big contracts, it’s not how much the client wants to spend that counts, but what they can successfully achieve with their budget.

It goes without saying that the contract should be equally economically viable for the contractor – and projects should always be realistically deliverable and profitable first and foremost.

Backup

Public sector contracts tend to be high value, large scale projects, and with big investment comes big asks. It’s essential that you can demonstrate relevant experience, describing the skills of the people attached to the project. From senior management through to the operations team on the ground, the bid should effectively demonstrate what you are bringing to the table and the added value that comes with your team.
At the end of the day, the highest scoring bid wins the tender, and at Win That Bid, we’re all about winning – it’s what we do best. As the UK’s biggest bid writing and tender process specialists, our experts have extensive experience in construction and civil engineering projects in both public and private sector work. Our bid management team can guide you through all stages of the process, from initial tender selection right through to the final bid presentation. Get in touch for more information by calling 020 3405 1850 – and visit our site to learn more about our bid services.

Nailing Down Construction Contracts

Construction Contracts

Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has recently stated that The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) for the next 20 years will include an investment of £375bn in construction and civil engineering projects. In addition, the insurance industry also plans to spend £25bn over the next five years.

Tendering for the projects included in this investment will be fierce and winning the contracts will go beyond merely attempting to undercut the competition with price. The successful bids will deliver a proposal that highlights how your organisation can offer the best solution, inspiring confidence that you can deliver on budget and to programme, with innovative and sustainable solutions.

Stand Out From The Crowd

When attempting to bid for contracts within an industry as competitive as construction, it’s essential to differentiate from the competition to ensure that your bid stands out. By examining the core competencies of your business and its competitors, Win that Bid can identify, develop and isolate the key reasons why your business is better than the rest.

It’s All In The Details

In order to maximise your success rate on the bids your company decides to submit, it is essential to examine the requirements, and ensure that each question and its required detail is addressed. From the initial planning through to the drafting and review of each response, a detailed Bid Management Plan is a key element of a successful proposal document. The Plan will assist in mapping out your plan to meet the client’s needs, and will also functions as a visual demonstration to the client that all of their requirements have been met.

To be successful with your bids, being thorough is non-negotiable as it is very easy to miss vital elements of a question. However, bids do not always arrive at the right time from clients. You could be busy with current contracts, have insufficient resources or just not enough time, but if it is a targeted bid, you still need to complete the documents professionally Win That Bid specialise in giving businesses the resources and extra capacity to get a winning proposal put together in time.

Match Your Capabilities

It’s important to remember that the bidding process is a two-way street and, as much as a client may get to choose which company to employ to develop their project; the client must also be a good fit for your business. Whilst it is wise to focus your efforts on bidding for contracts that concentrate on your strengths, it is tempting to try and diversify your portfolio. It is important to select the right schemes to avoid wasting your time and potentially leave you with less business.

At Win That Bid, our APMP qualified team are experts in the bidding process and our Project Intelligence team identify projects that are an ideal fit for our clients. With extensive experience in construction and civil engineering projects, we can help your company secure your next construction contract and benefit from the significant planned investment.. As the UK’s biggest bid writing and tender process specialists, our experts can prepare and write proposals that are proven to win contracts for both UK and international projects. Get in touch for more information by calling 020 3405 1850 – and visit our site to learn more about our bid services.

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.

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!

Qualifying the Bid

The G4S debacle we discussed in the last post raised a big issue for bid writers: how to qualify your bid. Is that astonishing £300 million tender opportunity going to turn into a real disaster for your company? Less melodramatically, are your bid writers going to waste weeks of sleepless nights filling out PQQs trying to win a bid you weren’t ever going to win?

Don’t go for every bid

Setting aside an apparent opportunity isn’t the same as wasting one. Trying to win a tender opportunity means putting in an enormous investment in time and energy. Much better to put that effort into a quality proposal than spreading it across dozens of failed prospects.

Before you choose which bids to aim for, read the tender contracts in detail and consider:

  • Are you qualified for the bid? Do you have the right accreditation, the right resources, the right documentation to get through the PQQ? More to the point, can you demonstrate that to the procurer?
  • Is the bid right for your business? Can you demonstrate prior work for clients in the same sector?
  • Do you understand the bid requirements? That unclear pricing structure could really hurt you after the contract is won, as happened to G4S!
  • Who is the buyer? Do you have a relationship with them? Will you be able to establish a dialogue with them? Will they ask you to provide five times the number of personnel you were contracted for at the last minute, and do you have contingency plans if they do?
  • Who are your competitors? Can your bid writers demonstrate why it is that your company will be a better choice?

Get some sleep!

The answers to those questions aren’t always as obvious as they sound, particularly in tender contracts with long or arcane PQQs. Win that Bid has a lot of experience in helping people to get those winning contracts, but also in avoiding two of the great curses of bid writing: wasting time on failed bids, or winning bids that the company was never suitable for in the first place.

Have you been paid yet?

Recently an alliance of small business lobbying groups sent a letter to the Business Minister Mark Prisk, highlighting one of the biggest problems facing companies tendering for contracts in the UK today: late payment.

The numbers present a clear picture of the both the scale of the problem and who the mostly likely perpetrators are.

  • Large companies are responsible for 48% of late payments and account for most of the £24 billion owed to small and medium suppliers in the UK.
  • Late payments for UK Government tenders or charity work constitute just 9%, less than public/private concerns.
  • Both the public and the third sector have improved their record in recent years .
  • Prominent excuses given include a lack of payment authorisation and reports that the “cheque is in the post”.

Encouraging Prompt Payment?

Businesses can be scared to “name and shame” large corporations who mess around with their tender contracts, despite the fact that late payments break businesses. In these circumstances, it can be difficult to know exactly who to complain to. A poor UK government tender PQQ structure can be flagged up for the Cabinet Office to look into, but what about a multinational?

You could try encouraging prompt payment by the tender issuer. The letter to the Business Minister suggested a clampdown on “prompt payment discounts”, a strategy in which suppliers offer discounts on products in exchange for guarantees of payment on time. Several business advice websites suggest doing just that to incentivise punctual payments for commercial tenders. A company considering this should ask themselves whether they want to be paying the buyer extra to do what they claimed they were going to do on the tender contracts.

What can businesses do?

The best answer – and unfortunately the most complex to implement – is to make your business more resilient in times of unexpected cash flow problems relating to late payment. We can help you transform the capabilities of your business. Firstly, it’s important to consider how many sources of income the company has. It is dangerous for a company to rely on just one major contract or tender.  Another important safeguard to pursue is a high credit score. Being transparent about the financial state of the company can be helpful in other aspects of winning bids, especially for new companies who may not be able to provide the several years of financial data requested by most UK government tender PQQs. Win that Bid’s Bid Management service can help you assemble the right documents.

Don’t let yourself get pushed around.

Companies should also research the organisation issuing the tender. The sources of information aren’t always immediately obvious. This is an area in which a consultancy like Win that Bid can really help you in assessing whether to pursue an opportunity. Carrying out credit checks on potential customers is a good start. Communication between the supplier and the customer is always important: You should be clear about what the payment terms of the tender contract are and request clarification if they aren’t clear. And if the customer does try to change the terms of the contract, a supplier should make it clear that it expects something in return.

SMEs and public sector tenders

What do the latest changes mean for your business?

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can feel locked out of government tenders by the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) requirements. The Cabinet Office wants this to change and over the last year they’ve taken some steps to do just that. In this article we’re going to take a look at what they’ve recommended and how that could make things easier for your business and applying for public sector tenders.

There are a few issues that face SMEs when public sector tendering. The first is that public sector departments are risk averse because of limited budgets and competing political demands. No authority wants to hire a small company and discover it can’t fulfil the contract. To avoid this UK government tenders focus on compliance and financial robustness, favouring established companies.

Worse, SMEs can be inadvertently filtered out of the process by asking far too much of them in compliance requirements or in the scale of the contract. The Cabinet Office is currently recommending that contracting authorities split their contracts into separate micro-lots for each required service. This ought to help SMEs by reducing the size of each contract and allowing them to take advantage of their specialist expertise that a large company trying to do everything might not possess.

The Finance Problem

Public sector tendering often requires demonstrating financial stability backed up with plenty of financial data, which can be a problem for many SMEs. They may simply have not been operating long enough to meet those requirements and probably lack the required level of insurance. They may not have enough staff to collate all the information they need.

The new guidelines encourage procurers to allow for alternative forms of financial information. UK government tenders and their contracting authorities are being encouraged to be more open about exactly what details are necessary.

Changes in “Technical and Professional Capacity”

The last thing any local authority wants is to be made complicit in some awful pollution or racism scandal by one of their contractors. So they’ve tended to put equal opportunities, health and safety and environmental compliance into the “technical or professional capacity” section of the PQQ. It can be expensive to prove that an SME is in compliance with all these rules.

The Cabinet Office has asked contracting authorities to remember that this section should only be about previous similar contracts, quality control and technical staff. This doesn’t mean that the compliance issues are now irrelevant: instead, the local authority is likely to use the “eligibility” section to ascertain whether the bidder has a record of dumping hydrogen sulphide into municipal swimming pools. The hope is that the move will draw a much clearer distinction between mandatory and discretionary grounds for disqualification, helping SMEs. If a contracting authority isn’t clear about where the line is, ask!

Big Changes in Best Practice

The Cabinet Office has issued a model PQQ in line with all these new changes which government departments are now required to use. By only including the minimum requirements of the regulations, the hope is that the bar won’t be set too high for SMEs to consider. Better still for SMEs, the Cabinet Office has a “mystery shopper” report. Suppliers are being encouraged to report poor procurement practices and unclear tenders.

The new guidelines for PQQs all aim to make the process simpler and cheaper for SMEs to engage in, and provide more outlets for them to question decisions or get feedback. Not all of the potential hurdles have disappeared, but they have got lower.

We would love to hear about how the changes have affected your business so what do you think?

Interested in finding local government opportunities?

Interested in hiring a bid writer to help you win a local government tender?

Good proposal feedback questions to ask the client

Not getting chosen at the end of a long tender or bid process is painful. However, it is a necessary evil of taking part.  Once the initial shock is over, the worse thing you can do is to forget about it and move on to applying for the next one that crosses your desk.

One of the most important things to do is to conduct an internal and external review. We often get asked how to phrase these questions when you are sitting in front of the buyer as it could be tempting to scream at them, “What’s Wrong With Us?  Do you know how much time we spent on working on this proposal?”

Here are some of our suggestions:

1.  How did the proposal contribute to losing the tender?

2.  Was our proposal easy to evaluate?

3.  Did the proposal comply?

4.  How did it compare on content and price to our other competitors?

5.  Would you recommend we continue to respond to your tenders?

We would love to hear from you and what you find works the best/gets the best results.

Two Stage Tendering for Destination Builds

Perhaps the most crucial factors contributing to the success of a destination builds (tourist attractions, hotels, restaurants, head offices) are location and design.  Once chosen, there’s not much you can do about location.  Design however, is a different matter.  Not only does it cause challenges throughout the initial fit out, over time the building will need to re-design to keep up to date.

There are four main methods of procurement and central to each is the responsibility of design.

1) Construct Only: This method sees the developer appoint a design team which will control all areas of design until the project is finished.  Once the design of the building is completed the developer will tender for a construction team.  This tender will be solely for construction duties and as bidding is for a finished design, tenderers can bid a lump sum.  The main advantage of this procurement process is that the developer retains control of design, vital to the owners. The contractor is also taking on less risk than a project that may still change so costs can be driven down.  However, this step by step process demands a lot more time than ones where building and design can overlap or coincide.

2) Design and Build: Design and build procurement involves the developer having their own design team which will begin the design process.  Then, once the design has reached a suitable stage, a design-build contract is issued.  The contractor who wins this contract will continue to develop the design, replacing the original team, while carrying out building works.  An advantage is that the work can begin earlier which will save the developer money.  It also limits the risk of extension of time claims due to design error.  There are some disadvantages.  Tenders will ask a higher price than Construct Only contracts, as they do more work.  Also, the developer loses design ownership key to the brand of the building.  It is possible for the developer to employ a team of design monitoring consultants but the opportunities for confrontation and crossed wires arise, as do more costs.

3) Two-Stage Tendering:  This can be seen as a adaptation to the Design and Build process.  It is sometimes thought of as more suitable for smaller, less complex buildings, but is increasingly popular.  This arrangement involves a contractor carrying out pre-construction work and assisting the developer’s design team.  It is usually let on a guaranteed maximum price basis.  When the design has progressed to a point where construction is able to begin, the developer will enter into either a construct only contract or possibly a design-build contract to complete the works.  The benefits of two-stage tendering to the developer involve retaining the all-important design control.  Also, as the developer has been able to engage the contractor early and obtain a fixed price for the second stage, this system provides cost and time savings.

4) Construction Management: With this system, the developer employs a construction manager as an advisor.  All works required throughout the building will be divided into packages and the construction manager will give guidance on the best way to do this.  The developer then enters into each separate contract while the construction manager oversees the process.  As everything is done under separate contracts, pre-construction works can begin while design is still being finalised.  When the design is finished one single contract can be issued for the rest of the works.  The main advantage to this method is the degree of control the developer keeps over the design.  The main disadvantage though, is that there is no single point of contact on the construction side.  Errors, queries and suggestions must involve tracking down the relevant contractor.  This is difficult for the developer and very unattractive to any lenders.  Previously, construction managers were assumed to have relatively little liability, as they are have no direct, contractual link with sub-contractors.  However, after the high profile Great Eastern Hotels case, construction managers and developers may view the arrangement differently.

Need tender writing or bid management assistance? Get in touch 0203 405 1850 or email hello@winthatbid.com