It isn’t too much of a stretch to suggest that bid writing is just a glorified sales job with a bit of direct marketing thrown in. The fact of the matter is that this is not far from the truth. Of course, there is far more to writing a successful bid than breaking out your best Swiss Toni impression, but exactly how similar are the two disciplines? In this article we discuss how to apply 6 sales hot-buttons to every bid you write.
One of the key principles of bid writing is to ensure that the tangible value that you offer is conveyed. One of the best ways to do this is by clearly outlining the savings and ROI the buyer can expect to receive.
Savings can be offered not simply through cheaper pricing. For example, you can provide savings through lifetime guarantees or extended warranties. The quality of your product may offer long-term ROI due to longer servicing windows or better-quality parts.
For service-based industries you may be able to offer savings through better processes or systems which allow for shorter onsite times for staff.
More than simply explaining that your solution is cheapest, you must explain the value which justifies the price of your offer. There is no use claiming that your solution is 50% cheaper than everyone else’s without also explaining how quality standards are maintained.
If your solution is the cheapest, you need to convince the buyer that it will still be as high-quality as the rest. If your solution is the most expensive, you need to explain why the extra spend is worth it via longer-term savings.
Equally, there is no use offering additional services / value adds, without explaining their value. You must explain how they will be delivered to budget without compromising on quality of the core service. The buyer won’t want to pay more for things they don’t want or need.
Time savings are inextricably linked to cost savings especially in service-based industries. It can therefore be an excellent value add in any bid, to properly explain how both of these can bring benefit to the buyer.
Offering time savings without also explaining the value this brings can do more harm than good however. For example, You may have a new, state-of-the art lawn mower, that can mow a field 3 times faster. There is no value to the client here however unless you also explain that the quality of cut remains the same while cost is reduced thanks to the fact that staff are not required on site as long.
If you are offering a product rather than a service, you may wish to explain the time savings and efficiencies that your product offers over existing options. For example, your CRM software may allow directors to manage leads more efficiently, but unless you can quantify the benefit here with a stat, there is little value to the buyer.
Quality is one of the most important aspects of any tender submission. The buyer will almost always ask you a question regarding quality and how you propose to ensure your service is the best.
You must therefore be able to explain the tangible quality of your product or service, explaining the key benefits of your offering.
If you are selling a product, you may wish to talk about the quality of design and construction. Perhaps you can offer a lifetime guarantee.
If you are selling a service, you should evidence your track record in defect avoidance and/or rectification, complaints and customer service.
Other things to think about when discussing quality include:
- Accreditations, Certifications and Awards
- Legal / Statutory Compliance
- Record Keeping
- External and Internal Auditing Process
- Complaints Procedure
- Client Feedback
Performance and Reliability
The performance and reliability of your product or service is linked closely to quality. The difference being in that you must be able to evidence your track record and provide assurance for the future.
Explain performance targets you have met and how you plan to meet these in the future. Also talk about performance targets you have struggled with and explain how you remedied these. Discuss your goals regarding performance targets, focusing on continuous improvement.
In bid writing, you should always discuss your track record in reliability. Track record in this area is equally as important as performance and is an excellent trust-builder with potential clients. Always present facts and explain the aspects of your product or service which allow for such consistently high quality.
Customer experience must always be considered in bidding. You should be able to offer benefits such as a single point-of-contact, around-the-clock customer service and simple ordering processes.
Bear in mind that your proposal will generally be the buyer’s first impression of you as a company. Your proposal should therefore mirror the customer experience you expect to provide. Aim to make your bid easy-to-understand and accessible as possible. By making your company appear friendly and competent you will instil confidence and a pre-expectation of the experience they will get if they hire you.
If your bid sounds routine, boring or disinterested, the buyer is unlikely to choose your proposal as your service is likely to be the same.
Signing a new contractor involves a level of calculated risk on the part of the buyer. It is therefore your responsibility to explain as far as possible how you have considered and mitigated against any potential risks.
Most bids require records of your financial history. Be as forthcoming as you can with this otherwise they may think you’re hiding something. We always recommend (and most tenders would require) that you should only apply for contracts if the value is less than 1/3rd of your annual turnover.
You should offer the best possible references, case studies and contract examples. Make them relevant to the project in terms of scope, value, location, timescales, etc. Your reputation will go a long way towards making up the buyer’s mind.
Gather as many relevant accreditations and certifications as possible. In conjunction with a well written policy suite, you can mitigate risk by demonstrating your competence. A poorly-worded health and safety policy or a half-finished business continuity plan will not go far in mitigating legal risk for the buyer.
Building trust between yourself and your prospective client is one of the hardest yet most important aspects of bid writing. The simple fact of the matter is that your reader will not buy from you unless they trust you.
Case studies and references are always an excellent way to establish credibility. Make sure they are relevant to the buyer and explain how you routinely honour your commitments to clients.
You should also discuss your track record of meeting and exceeding targets. Offer tangible self-imposed penalties if you don’t.
Trust is obviously closely linked to risk. If you can prove how you reduce risk to your client, they are much more likely to trust you.
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