Once you’ve made your selection and defined which tender you want to bid for, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty task of putting your proposal together. We’re not going to lie to you, bid writing is not an easy task. It takes a lot of practice to perfect the art of writing winning bids, but if you have the right tools in hand it might be easier than you think.
To help, we’ve prepared a comprehensive check list of how to approach writing your bid proposal.
How to write a winning bid
- Have a tactical plan
Approach your bid proposal as you would a new project which your company is about to deliver. Outline what your strategy will be. Who are the key players internally? Do they have time to dedicate to this pitch? Create a timeline of actions and deliverables, with a clearly mapped out in a responsibility matrix. Before you are ready to think about copy writing and designing your proposal, you need to have thought through everything that needs to be tackled – right down to how you’ll deliver your bid. Refer to this checklist for added insight on how following a successful bid strategy.
- Read the guidelines carefully
Your second plan of action needs to be reading all the requirements very, very carefully. Take notes and absorb what the tender is asking for. Review the application process and all the documentation attached that you will have to fill in or submit. Make note of available space in these forms. Don’t spend time on a 1000 word introduction if the allowed space is actually for 1000 characters.
- Know the layout
In many tender proposals you’ll find specifications of how the bid has to be supplied including fonts, font sizes, pagination, margins and so on. If you miss these important details then no matter how brilliant your submission is, it can run the risk of you being disqualified.
- Write in the first person
The bid needs to be coming from you and your organisation. Use words such as ‘I’, ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘us’. Don’t talk about yourself in the third person i.e. don’t use words like ‘they’, ‘them’ etc. It’s important that you own this document and it is a representation of your company. Writing in the third person creates disassociation and makes your readers think the proposal was written by a third party. This is especially important if you have outsourced the writing of the bid documentation – they need to be aware it’s coming from you.
- Use modern language
If the tender documentation is in English, consider which words you use carefully. Whilst you don’t want it to be too colloquial, you should equally not go down the road of what we call old English. Modern language and writing is all about being concise and informative. You can always give your content a full first draft and then polish accordingly. Remember the evaluators won’t only be seeing your proposal, but several. So don’t use longwinded words or phrases when a single word will do. It won’t help your bid in the long run and will tire the reader unnecessarily.
- Talk like the expert you are
Include several references to previous similar projects you have worked on. If you’re going to make a bold statement about these projects, substantiate them with references from clients or the achieved results. Never quote another client without their consent. If your client doesn’t support what you are claiming, you can’t use them as a referee to prove your company’s skills. By showcasing previous experience in areas which are similar to the requests outlined in the tender, you show that you have the capacity and expertise to deliver what they are looking for.
- Write to persuade
A company brochure is just that. A snapshot of a company’s history and areas of expertise or services. If you approach a tender in the same way, you’re not merging your offering with their request. Writing to persuade means you need to consider 1) who you are writing for 2) how what you offer matches what they are looking for 3) how you’re differently positioned to your competitors and 4) what you’ll deliver specifically for this project – your value proposition.
- Use supporting diagrams and infographics
Whilst we are not suggesting that your entire bid is based on images, using diagrams to explain your company structure, or how you will tackle the requirements of the tender can be advantageous. Remember the evaluating committee for the tender will be going through numerous submissions. Providing them with the tools to easily and quickly understand your proposal will make their experience more positive.
- Read through the tender request one more time
Before proofing your work, give your original checklist – or even better the original tender request – one more read through. You never know what you might have missed and if you’ve just spent days putting your bid together it’s easy to forget something you needed to tackle/answer/include. It’s surprising that no matter how well prepared you think you are, there’s always something between the lines you might have missed.
- Check. Check. Check.
That’s it. Your winning bid is ready in its entirety. Now is the time to proof your work. Recalculate your costings. Double check you’ve responded to all questions and deliverables. Have you filled in all requested forms and documentation? Do you have typos you need to fix, missing sections or is there an issue with your flow? This is the time to focus on perfecting your tender bid to make sure it doesn’t just answer the brief at a basic level, but that you’ve also helped your firm stand out. You can even ask a third party to check because another pair of eyes will only help your bid have winning potential.
If you practice the above writing tips with each tender, you’ll find it easier and easier to prepare a compelling bid. By covering the basics you’re assured that your submission won’t be disqualified over a technicality and that it has every chance of winning.
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