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"Bid Writing... Seriously, how hard can it be?"

Dec 12, 2017

Charles Grosstephan, our Bid Training and Consultancy Manager, muses on the oft-asked question....

To be honest, this is a genuine question, although perhaps asked by those who are not directly involved in writing a bid. The next comment, usually made by the same person asking the question: “It’s just like the last ones you’ve done”. Normally then followed up with “You’ll be able to get it done this afternoon. I can look at it in the morning and we’ll submit it”, accompanied by a smile/wink/smirk/quick exit.

Sound familiar to anyone?

It’s a very common thought, or, more realistically, misconception. Forget, for a moment, the bid pipeline work, the pre-bid work and the (usually based on gut feeling) bid/no bid process – writing a bid takes a serious amount of time and effort, which someone has to invest! There are a number of factors that come into play when writing a bid and most certainly, todays bid is NOT the same as yesterday’s bid.
  • Chances are, the buyer will be different and will, therefore, want slightly different things. Here’s an analogy – you and another person both go to a restaurant as you are both hungry. What are the chances of you both ordering exactly the same food and drink? You have the same goal to satisfy hunger; achieved with a different approach.
  • Today’s bid will have a different word count to yesterday’s bid, which will impact on how much information you need to provide and write about (making sure everything adds value and is credible!).
  • The current bid is a hard copy submission (although becoming rare), wheras yesterday’s bid was an email submission. The one before was a portal submission.
  • You were the incumbent on yesterday’s bid but not on this new one (think defence and attack).
  • Today’s bid has 15 specific questions; yesterday’s had 10, meaning the need for more work and time.
  • This bid is a 60/40 technical/commercial split; yesterday’s was 70/30.
These are just some of the really basic things to think about and they don’t even include win themes! The next time someone says/thinks “It’s just like the last one”, it needs to be followed up with the questions: “Is it? What will win this one?” Bidding really isn’t a numbers game. As I say to everyone on our training courses, every bid you work on, you need to have a realistic chance of winning. Thornton & Lowe offer a range of Bid Writing training courses, from Introduction to Bidding to a 2-Day Bid/Tender Masterclass at city centre locations across the UK. We also offer industry-specific courses and bespoke in-house training for clients. Our courses are open to anyone within an organisation involved in the bidding process and looking to boost success rates. Our new online training course has recently been launched, allowing participants the opportunity to learn at a time and location which suits them. For all our course information, please click here. Alternatively, contact the Training Team on 01204 238046 or email to discuss your requirements.

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