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Bid Management Skills - how to excel in your role

Bid management skills are now very desirable  

Bid management skills are now critical for many sales and marketing professionals, or those business support functions involved in the tender process. Whether you are a seasoned bid manager, support with tender responses when they 'land', or just starting your career in 'bidding', developing bid management skills, can significantly enhance your chances of success and help you stand out in your role, as well as increasing your tender win rate.

With increasing scrutiny on public sector spending, and larger private sector organisations mirroring procurement practices to ensure fairness and accountability, there is a lack of bid management skills in the UK market. 

This article will provide a guide to excelling in bid management, covering essential aspects such as understanding the bidding process, developing a winning bid strategy, and overcoming common challenges. We will also explore key skills and best practices that can help you elevate your bid management expertise and drive better results for your organisation. 

Understanding bid management

Bid management is a critical process that involves overseeing the entire lifecycle of a bid, from identifying opportunities to submitting a winning proposal. It plays a vital role in helping organisations secure new contracts and grow their business. Effective bid management requires a good understanding of the client's requirements, the competitive landscape, and the organisation's strengths and capabilities.

Definition and importance

Bid management is the process of coordinating and managing the end-to-end bid process, from opportunity identification to contract award. It involves assembling and leading a bid team, developing a clear win strategy, and ensuring that all necessary resources are aligned with the client's requirements. Bid management is essential for organisations looking to increase their success rates when tendering for contracts.

For businesses who regularly bid for formal tender opportunities, a bid manager may have a dedicated team, including the following roles: 

It is the bid manager's role to take ownership of the bid, or the bid team in it's entirety in many cases. In many sectors winning tenders and frameworks is a must, so having a responsible person or people with effective bid management skills is essential. 

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Core bid management responsibilities

The core responsibilities of a bid manager include:

  1.  Managing the bid process from start to submission. Often under the director of a bid director, sales director or senior management team
  2.  Leading increasingly 'virtual bid teams' and engaging with key stakeholders
  3.  Developing a clear win strategy for each bid
  4.  Preparing and reviewing the commercial aspects of the bid
  5.  Risk tracking and management throughout the bid process, highlighting key issues to other responsible departments or team members 
  6.  Contributing to or writing the quality tender responses or proposal, and managing the bid budget
  7.  Ensuring timely submission of compliant and commercially sound bids
  8.  Driving continuous improvement through post-bid reviews
  9. Managing or overseeing bid library content or bid templates

Bid management process

The bid management process typically involves the following stages:



Opportunity Identification

Identifying suitable opportunities to bid for based on the organisation's capabilities and strategic objectives

Bid/No-Bid Decision

Assessing the viability of the opportunity and deciding whether to proceed with the bid

Bid Planning

Assembling the bid team, developing a bid strategy, and creating a timeline for the bid process

Proposal Development

Writing and reviewing the proposal, ensuring compliance with the client's requirements and showcasing the organisation's strengths

Submission and Follow-up

Submitting the bid on time and following up with the client to address any queries or concerns

Post-Bid Review

Conducting a thorough review of the bid process to identify areas for improvement and capture lessons learned

By following a structured bid management process and using the skills of experienced bid managers, organisations can significantly improve their chances of success in the competitive world of tendering.

Create a bidding masterplan

Key skills for effective bid management

To excel in bid management, professionals must possess a diverse set of skills that enable them to navigate the complex and fast-paced world of competitive bidding. Here are the key skills essential for effective bid management:

Leadership and team management

Bid managers play a crucial role in leading and coordinating cross-functional teams throughout the bidding process. They must be able to:

  1. Motivate and inspire team members to deliver high-quality work within tight deadlines
  2. Manage complex business relationships and multiple resources effectively
  3. Ensure seamless collaboration among various departments and stakeholders. 

Time management

Meeting strict deadlines is paramount in bid management. Bid managers must:

  1. Work efficiently within tight schedules, leaving buffer time for contingencies
  2. Prioritise tasks and manage multiple bids simultaneously
  3. Delegate responsibilities appropriately to ensure timely submission of bids. 

Communication skills

Effective communication is vital for bid managers, both internally and externally. They should:

  1. Possess excellent written and verbal communication skills
  2. Articulate clear and concise messages in bids and to team members
  3. Listen actively, ask questions, and summarise key points to ensure understanding. 



Analytical Thinking and Problem-Solving

Bid managers must analyse complex information, identify potential risks, and devise effective solutions to challenges that arise during the bidding process.

Attention to Detail

Meticulous attention to detail is essential to ensure bids are error-free, compliant, and compelling. Bid managers must review and refine content to create a polished final product.

By developing these key skills, bid managers can effectively lead their teams, manage time and resources efficiently, communicate persuasively, analyse information critically, and deliver winning bids that showcase their organisation's strengths and capabilities.

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Bid Writing & Management Courses

Developing a winning bid strategy

Crafting a winning bid strategy is essential for success in the competitive world of bid management. By conducting thorough research and planning, tailoring proposals to client needs, and implementing effective pricing strategies, bid managers can significantly increase their chances of securing contracts and driving business growth.

At Thornton & Lowe, we often work hand-in-hand with existing in-house bid managers or writers, and support their bid strategy development and processes, as well as providing writing and bid management skills, training and capacity. 

Research and planning

Before diving into the tendering process, it is crucial to invest time in research and bid planning. This involves gathering documentation and intelligence to determine the specific requirements, deadlines, and formats expected by the client. Being able to answer strategic but essential questions before writing a tender response, helps maximise your organisation's return on investment from its bid management function. Developing an agreed-upon bid strategy with clear win themes and discriminators is also key to setting the foundation for a successful proposal or RFP.

Effective research and planning should include:

  • Understanding the client's requirements and goals
  • Analysing the competitive landscape
  • Identifying the organisation's strengths and capabilities
  • Developing a project schedule for stakeholder and subject matter expert input
  • Creating a comprehensive proposal outline. 

Tailoring proposals to client needs

A winning bid proposal must be tailored to the specific needs and requirements of the client. Generic, off-the-shelf responses are unlikely to capture the attention of evaluators or demonstrate a deep understanding of the client's unique challenges and objectives.

To create a client-focused proposal, bid managers should:

  1. Align the proposal with the client's evaluation process and criteria
  2. Base the bid strategy on the client's perspective and priorities
  3. Use a buyer-focused writing approach that emphasises benefits over features (we use benefit, feature, evidence as our structure of answering tender questions)
  4. Customise content to address the client's specific terminology, pain points, and desired outcomes
  5. Highlight relevant experience, case studies, and key personnel that demonstrate the organisation's ability to meet the client's needs. 

Effective pricing strategies

Pricing is a critical component of any winning bid strategy. Striking the right balance between competitiveness, profitability and client budget is key. While bid management skills sometimes require pricing knowledge, more often their skillset is in facilitating, challenging and clarification of the bid price. This allows the bid manager or their team, to then clearly articulate the solution and benefits. 

Some key considerations for developing effective pricing strategies include:

Pricing Strategy


Cost Analysis

Conducting a thorough analysis of the organisation's costs, including materials, labour, and overhead, to ensure that the bid price covers all expenses and allows for a reasonable profit margin.

Competitive Analysis

Researching competitor pricing and positioning to ensure that the organisation's bid is competitive while still maintaining profitability.

Value-Based Pricing

Emphasising the unique value and benefits that the organisation's solution provides to the client, justifying a higher price point based on the superior outcomes and ROI delivered.

Tiered Pricing

Offering multiple pricing options or packages to give the client flexibility and choice, while also allowing the organisation to capture a larger share of the market.

Risk Management

Incorporating risk management strategies, such as contingency planning and risk-sharing arrangements, to mitigate potential financial risks and protect the organisation's bottom line.

By combining thorough research and planning, client-focused tailoring, and strategic pricing, bid managers can develop winning bid strategies that set their organisations apart from the competition and drive long-term success in the bid management process.

What is bid planning

Bid management common challenges and how to overcome them

Despite the critical role bid management plays in securing contracts and driving business growth, professionals in this field often face several challenges that can hinder their success. 

Meeting tight deadlines

One of the most significant challenges in bid management is meeting strict submission deadlines. When faced with a last-minute opportunity or a shortened timeline, it's essential to:

  1. Carefully read the tender documents to understand the scope of work and submission requirements
  2. Assemble a dedicated bid team and clearly communicate roles, responsibilities, and deadlines
  3. Plan the project meticulously, setting achievable targets for each stage of the bid process
  4. Track progress regularly using a record of responses, their status, and outstanding attachments
  5. Maintain open communication with the bid team to ensure everyone has the information and support they need.

Bid management skill are therefore being able to prioritise, stay calm and be solution focused. 

Managing multiple stakeholders

Engaging and aligning multiple stakeholders throughout the bid process can be a daunting task. To effectively manage stakeholders:



Identify and prioritise stakeholders

Create a stakeholder map to identify key players and their level of influence and interest in the project. Building relationships and getting buy-in is very important. 

Communicate regularly

Establish clear communication channels and keep stakeholders informed of progress, changes, and outcomes. These are your internal customers - and customer service is key! 

Understand stakeholder goals

Align bid strategies with stakeholders' objectives and priorities to gain their support and buy-in.

Manage conflicts of interest

Proactively identify and address potential conflicts, seeking creative solutions that harmonise stakeholder interests.

As a bid manager you can't hide behind your laptop! Drive change, make progress and be seen as the solution to anything 'bid'. 

Ensuring compliance and quality

Bid managers must ensure that every submission meets the highest standards of compliance and quality. To achieve this:

  1. Conduct a thorough review of the tender specifications and requirements
  2. Develop a compliance checklist to track and verify adherence to all mandatory criteria, including regular updates based on tender portal clarifications 
  3. Ensure a robust quality assurance process with multiple rounds of review and proofreading
  4. Continuously train and educate the wider bid team on best practices, industry trends, and lessons learned from previous submissions.

An eye for detail is essential if you want to be a successful bid manager. 

Improving your bid management skills

Continuously working on your bid management skills is essential for staying competitive and achieving success in the tendering process. 

Continuous learning and development

Learning Opportunity


Industry Conferences

Gain insights into the latest trends and best practices in bid management. 

Online Bid Training Courses

Acquire new skills and knowledge at your own pace. 

Professional Networks

Connect with peers, share experiences, and learn from others. In the UK APMP is the key body for those involved in the bidding process, especially those from larger tier 1 or blue chip organisations.  

Seeking feedback and improving

With the nature of bids and a continuous drive to be better - every day really is a school day!

  1. Get feedback from your team, stakeholders, and customers on your bid process and outcomes, using surveys, ratings, reviews, and comments
  2. Analyse the feedback to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in your bid management approach
  3. Develop and implement action plans to address the identified areas for improvement, and track your progress over time.

If skills required for bid management are not quite your thing, then you may consider how to become a successful bid writer.  

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