How to write a clear and compelling bid

We understand that writing tenders, bids or proposals can feel like a daunting challenge to even the most experienced business owner or business development manager. Especially for those that are new to the tendering process or those who don’t explore this potential line of growth that frequently. Pitching for work through tenders is a brilliant strategy to explore, as it could give your business access to larger projects with a positive impact on your bottom line. But there are some traps you don’t want to fall into to make sure your bid isn’t overlooked, red flagged or immediately added to the rejection pile.

There’s a formula to effective bid preparation.

And it’s pretty simple to follow.

We’ve compiled a list of what our experience has shown us to be the most important factors to remember when you’re writing a clear and compelling bid.

Dive deep into the business your pitching for

It’s an easy trap to fall into. You skim the information on the organisation you’re bidding to, have a quick look at the project requirements, whilst making a mental check that you can deliver them all – and then you start to write.

Is this the right tactic for effective bid writing? The short answer is – no. Whilst you might think the organisation will appreciate the speed at which you’ve delivered your bid – you’re actually nowhere close to fully understanding the tender requirements.

The first step is to read and reread the information about the client. Do your research about the client’s company. See what you can dig up online. Learn more about who they’ve worked with in the past, the success rate of their previous projects, who else they have previously awarded contracts to. Get to know this brand in detail, because when you have a specific audience in mind that you’re writing to, the writing shifts from being basic to being persuasive. You’ll also feel more confident that this potential client is worthy of the time you’re spending preparing your bid.

Know what you’re bidding for

One quick read of a tender is never enough. Pay attention to the detail by reading the documents twice, even three or four times. Make notes. Try and read in-between the lines so you don’t miss a hidden request or small detail that could actually impact your proposal.

By exploring and understanding the project beforehand, you’re armed with vital information that can show your potential client that you truly understand what they are looking for. You’ll also be able to prove that you have shaped your bid to precisely match this request.

And if you don’t understand any aspects of the requirements you can ask questions or conduct a little further research. The more time you take in preparation, the more informed you and therefore your proposal will be.

Identify how your company can match the request.

Once you’ve done your homework on the client and the request, it’s time to start matching what your organisation can deliver. Are all aspects of the project feasible? Do you need to invest in any additional resources or equipment to fulfil this bid? Will it impact the flow of your existing work?

All clients who issue bids are looking for 1) the best provider 2) with the best price. It’s a well understood fact that lower pricing could secure you this business. But that doesn’t mean you need to push your prices lower than you are comfortable with. Think about the solution you’re offering. Is there added value you need to highlight in some areas to explain why your pricing might not be the cheapest?

Help them appreciate the value for money they are getting. If needed, show them the difference that a competitor will charge and why you charge more. When the client sees your acknowledgement that yours might not be the cheapest option, but it will be the best option and why, it could inject your bid with a winning formula.

If the bid allows it and only if it does, you could consider offering three options as solutions. So that they can see your flexibility when it comes to pricing and what you can deliver for that amount. Just be careful not to do this if 1) it wasn’t requested or 2) it wasn’t allowed.

Write to persuade, not to inform.

  • There is a very tangible difference between writing to inform and writing to persuade. In the former the content becomes nothing more than a company brochure with a rate sheet on how much you’d charge. In the latter the content becomes compelling, interesting and has the potential to be successful. Persuasive writing in action highlights:
  • How you are different to your competitors. If you’re only different by being cheaper (or indeed more expensive) you’re not giving your potential client enough to go on.
  • If you have been able to define how you are different, position that in respect of your competition. Are you more credible (if so why) or perhaps faster (again, if so why). Position yourself as a key player in your field by highlighting your strengths in the market place.
  • How you can motivate your reader into taking action. They’ve been through a ton of documents, made their notes. Now they have to take everything to the next stage. What can you do to make that a more compelling task for them by choosing you?
  • Think about the evaluating committee and their selection process. Ask people with previous evaluation experience what they look for. What impacts their decision. What they hate or like. Knowing what helps them make their choices, will infuse your writing with gold nuggets of
    persuasion as you’re following their thought process.
  • Your value proposition. It’s not just about listing prices, it’s how you explain what that price really means and what they will receive for it.

Make sure your bid is fully compliant.

If you’ve put in the time to research, understand and match your offering to the precise request in the tender document, it would be a shame to have your proposal rejected over a technicality.

Aside from making sure your bid writing is up to scratch, you also need to take the time to ensure that your bid is technically, administratively and commercially compliant. There are often guidelines to follow in this respect, especially if the work you are pitching for is government related, but even in other circumstances as well.

Try not to focus so much on the quality of your bid that you overlook the specifications they asked for and your bid becomes non-compliant. The truth is BOTH matter. So when your bid is ready – check it, proof it, reread the specifications on what data or information is needed, what format it is needed in and that you haven’t missed anything out.

This is especially important if you’re uploading your tender proposal through a portal. Don’t miss an attachment, wait for everything to load. Stay in control right to the end of the process.

Even if you’ve written one or two tenders in the past without success, don’t let it knock your confidence for future opportunities. Bookmark this article so once you’ve explored, flagged and downloaded thetender that you’re interested in, you can refer to it once again to create a bid that wins.

If you’d like some more tips on how to win bids, have a look at this handy checklist to help you during the bidding process.

TenderFinder is Malta’s first comprehensive tender database where you can easily search for tenders relevant to your business. Find out why TenderFinder could be your answer to growing your business.