How-to write a winning bid
- Do answer the questions asked. Buyers will be evaluating your bid against the questions asked so make sure you give a clear and concise answer to their question.
- Do evidence your statements. Make sure you can back up any affirmations with proven examples or case studies. Give the buyer assurance that you can deliver on your word.
- Do know your deadlines and create a bid response plan. Late responses cannot be accepted so make sure you provide your bid on-time by planning the work needed to draft an ace bid.
- Do read the specification carefully. Not all customers are alike, and the specification could include some additional features which you’ll need to cost for. Ensure you are 100% sure about what you are being asked to price against.
- Do consider your ability to deliver wider value to the customer. Price aside, think about the other things your business does which will benefit the customer. Sharing your companies approach to reducing waste, like operating a paper free office, giving all staff paper-free cups.
- Do use visuals. Where appropriate, a well-placed graph, chart or picture can really help sharpen your bid by getting your message across quickly. If relevant, include pictures of the delivery team.
Should I bid?
Before event deciding whether to put a bid together, it is worth assessing the opportunity and considering:
- If you are able to deliver all of the services / goods needed or if you need to collaborate with a delivery partner;
- If there is a good fit between your business and the potential customer – do you know their industry and requirements?
- What you know about the customer and their specific needs – consider things like DBS checks, access requirements you may have versus their business function (i.e. a school timetable);
- The likely competition and their strengths and weaknesses;
- If you can deliver the service in the timescales set out – you may need to recruit new staff if you win the contract.
What does the customer want?
Customers may set out a specification based on inputs (i.e. Number of cleaning hours) or outputs (i.e. delivery of 500 school meals a day). Make sure you are 100% clear on what is being asked in the specification. If you have any questions – be sure to ask for clarification. If you make any assumptions in your bid, be sure to list these in your response so it is clear what you are offering.
If you want to put forward an alternative solution (also known as a variant bid), make sure this is acceptable as it might not be considered.
The bid team
It’s a great idea to form a bid writing team early on and ensure that roles and responsibilities are clear in order to draft up an ace bid. Its is well worth putting a bid response plan together to ensure you have enough time to present a complete bid – remember to consider holidays and leave.
The team should include all relevant areas of the business including sales, service delivery, finance etc. If you have worked with the customer before, ensure that get staff with customer insight on the bid team – they’ll have valuable input which might just swing it in your favour!
Make sure that the bid team have support from their colleagues to cover their day to day work while they dedicate time to developing the content for your bid.
The bid writing process
- Do answer the questions asked. Buyers will be evaluating your bid against the questions set out and criteria so make sure you give a clear and succinct answer to their question.
- Do evidence your statements. Make sure you can back up any affirmations with proven examples or case studies. Give the buyer assurance that you can deliver on your word. Don’t just say it – prove it.
- Do remember that there is a word limit. So make every word count.
- Do put the customer in the center of the bid. It important that you tell them what you can do, but its more convincing the tell them what you can do for them. Express the benefits of your service and approach so they understand why you are ace.
- Do solve a problem. The customer has a problem or a need – make sure you set out the benefits of your offering to help them solve the problem.
- Do make your bid stand out and use visuals. Pictures, graphs, charts and images can really bring a bid to life. Where appropriate, a well-placed visual can help sharpen your bid by getting your message across quickly. If relevant, include pictures of the delivery team.
- Do provide bios on your key delivery staff. For service providers, these are key. Your team are the key ingredient in winning a bid. Use positive affirmations like “I will help you by…..” followed up with experience (the evidence) to prove you have the skills to do the job well.
- Do consider your ability to deliver wider value to the customer. Price aside, think about the other things your business does which will benefit the customer and align with their values. Sharing your companies approach to reducing waste, like operating a paper free office, giving all staff paper-free cups. This is important you customers like schools, churches and charities. See our social value guide for more information.
Tendering comes with a rigid timetable for specific activities. The tender period should be proportionate to the complexity of the bid you have been asked to prepare. If you feel that you won’t have enough time – ask for an extension at the start of the process (you’ll be more likely to get an extension early rather than last minute!)
Make sure you are aware of clarification deadlines too – ask all your questions upfront so you have time to review and respond to the responses.
Make sure you submit you bid well in advance of the deadline (i.e. the day before) so if you have any technical issues, these can be resolved without jeopardizing your bid.
Understand the Terms and Conditions
Make sure you have really understood the contract terms and conditions. Seek legal advice if needed. Variant bids may not be accepted, so its worth checking if you need to question any of the clauses - ask the buyer.
Most buyers will provide a pricing template to complete, but its also worth providing additional pricing to cover different eventualities, for example:
- Would the price change if there was a variation in volumes either up or down? Can you provide these based on a tiered approach?
- Would the price change if the delivery schedule was adapted (I.e. earlier hours or later hours / longer period to provide the service / goods)?
- Is there a way to provide a better value service by changing the service delivery model at all e.g. Using remote meetings on Zoom rather than face to face?
Make sure you are compliant
Double check you have signed all the relevant forms and documents. A non-compliant bid might not be reviewed and it would be such a shame to miss out for forgetting to sign your bid.
Check your bid
Proof-read your bid for spelling and grammar mistakes. A winning bid is well written and easy to read. Mistakes will cast doubt on our ability to deliver a truly professional service. Ensure you have allocated time for this in the bid plan.
Ask someone independent of the bid team to read your response to make sure you have answered all the questions and to check all examples really evidence your response.