How to make sure your bids stand out for the right reasons

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Every bid is an opportunity to make an impression on your potential clients, but a poorly executed strategy could make you stand out from the competition for the wrong reasons. So next time you are about to put together a bid, consider these seven tips for making sure your bid hits the mark.

1) Demonstrate you have understood the buyer’s objectives

Clients want a partner who will help them meet their business’s objectives. They are looking for proposals that demonstrate how the bidder will align with their ambitions and take away any concerns that are keeping them awake at night. However, according to Buyer’s View Of Bidders by Strategic Proposals, 69% of proposals fail to demonstrate this. Too many bids are centred around the bidder, launching straight into ‘who we are’ and ‘why us?’ with project specifics featuring much further into the document.

A quick way to check where the focus of your document lies is to scan the left hand margin and see how many times ‘we’ or your company’s name appears. Too many will highlight that your potential client is an afterthought and their objectives are not featuring as a priority in your proposal. Do your research, understand the buyer’s drivers and demonstrate how you will help them on their journey.

2) Identify three winning themes

Once you’ve made it clear you’ve understood the buyer’s objectives, you need to highlight why your company is best placed to help your potential client meet them over your competition. Before you start producing any content, you need to agree on a value proposition and three winning themes that will form the core of your proposal. If you’ve truly understood the buyer and your competition this should be quite straightforward. For example, if the buyer is looking to achieve an environmental accreditation for the building, you should demonstrate how you are an expert in delivering sustainable projects and provide case studies, testimonials and proposed team members that support this story.

Try to think out of the box and highlight what makes you different. It is not unique to promise on-time delivery and meet budget expectations – that is just delivering what is expected. So resist the urge to list ten reasons why your services are good and instead think about what is going to make your potential client say “yes, that is exactly what I am looking for.”

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3) Ensure your submission is logical and easy to review

It should be easy for buyers to review and evaluate your proposal. If instructions to tender (ITT) have been provided, read them carefully and answer the questions in the order they appear. Bids that jump around and redirect the reader to websites, marketing collateral or answers to other questions will be frustrating to evaluate. You want to make it as easy as possible for you to achieve full marks.

According to Strategic Proposals, 45% of bidders seem disorganised when producing proposals. To ensure this is not you:

  • Follow the instructions carefully, taking note of any font size, line spacing and word count restrictions;

  • Ensure your submission is structured logically and sounds like it has been written by one person;

  • Use headings and subheadings to summarise the essence of the page and paragraph for skim readers;

  • Use graphical devices, pull quotes, bullets and tables to make your text more readable; and

  • Mirror the language and buzzwords used in the RFP and avoid using your own jargon or clichés.

4) Provide evidence and facts over marketing statements

Successful bids should include evidence and facts over shiny marketing statements. Potential clients are looking for bespoke, tailored proposals that demonstrate an understanding of their objectives and provide evidence that the bidder is an expert in the field.

As 75% of buyers think proposals are too ʻsalesyʼ, it is not enough to make bold claims – you need to back them up with statistics, case studies, testimonials and facts. Use bold statements that reinforce your authority as a thought leader and avoid using phrases such as ‘we believe’ and ‘we think’.

5) Do not promise what you cannot deliver

When trying to win work it can be tempting to promise the world and set unrealistic expectations. Doing so will only cause harm. It will hinder your client’s progress to meet its objectives, damage your reputation and demotivate your team.

A common occurrence is for a contractor to present one team in the proposal and the tender interview, while another actually delivers the project. The client wants to get to know the people who will be delivering their vision. That’s who they expect to see turn up on day one. If you know your core team members are likely to be committed to other jobs when the project is due to start on site, avoid introducing them at all. This is also true of benefits, milestones, costs, lead times and so on. It is much better in the long run to under promise and over deliver.

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6) Use visuals to create memorable moments

First impressions matter and can be quite difficult to shake off. The reader may be reviewing five or more bids and if yours is not memorable for the right reasons, you're unlikely to win the contract. Present and package your response professionally, in a way that is memorable, compliant and helps you stand out from your competition. Consider design and aesthetics, and use compelling graphics to support your text. Also engage a printing supplier to discuss how you will package your submission.

7) Show how much you want to win

Do not be complacent with your submission, even if you are the front runner or only bidder. Clients want to see that you care about their project as much as they do. Your bid should be unique to the opportunity, so avoid merely copying and pasting content from previous submissions.

Attention to detail is critical as a typo or mistake will result in your client quickly losing trust in your capabilities. Use spell check, hire an independent proofreader, check headers and footers, search for common filler symbols and double check the client’s name, the title of the project and return instructions.

So there you have it – seven tips to ensure your bids stand out for the right reasons:

  1. Demonstrate you have understood the buyer’s objectives;

  2. Identify three winning themes;

  3. Ensure your submission is logical and easy to review;

  4. Provide evidence and facts over marketing statements;

  5. Do not promise what you cannot deliver;

  6. Use visuals to create memorable moments; and

  7. Show how much you want to win.

Eloquence Works offers flexible and agile bid and proposal services to help construction businesses win more work, including bid management, tender design and proposal editing services. If you would like an audit of your current submissions or to discuss how a different approach could help you win more work, then get in touch via email at rebecca@eloquenceworks.co.uk or follow me on LinkedIn for more tips.