8 Bid Writing Tips For Maximum Success

This sounds like perhaps the most obvious thing to say, but it is here for a good reason. In our experience, bids and tenders are hardly near the top of peoples’ favourite things to do. As a result, procrastination takes over and work begins on the bid a day or two before submission.

Sound familiar? Well, there’s your first mistake.

The result of this...

Rushing through the documents to get to the answer. Critical instructions being missed which can have a severe impact on your bid. 

That’s perhaps why you are here, to read about our expert bid writing tips. Luckily for you, you’re in the right place to learn from these mistakes, adopt a successful approach and seek the guidance you need to start writing some winning bids and securing contracts.

Be Compliant

In-line with reading and following instructions, you need to make sure your bid is compliant. To help you, you could develop a compliance checklist that includes:

  • Word counts or character counts 
  • Font restrictions 
  • Page limits 
  • Number of copies of your bid to be submitted

Followed by questions like:

  • Have we answered all the questions? (Perhaps even list the questions to tick off) 
  • Have I included all the documents requested?
  • Are all my documents that I am submitting up to date?

It sounds very simplistic, but we have worked with clients who have forgotten to include certain documents, rendering their bid non-compliant. We’ve even had clients forget to do their pricing!

Assume Nothing

This is one of the many codes that we work by, other than assuming that the buyer will read every word of your bid. It can be quite easy to think “they will know what we mean” or “they know us so we’ll keep this brief”. 

Every bid should be treated as if it is the first bid you have written and that the client is new to you, regardless of whether you are the incumbent or not. 

Making assumptions can be quite disastrous. One client, who had been working with their customer for 20 years, took a very “oh, they know us” approach to their PQQ. As a result, they lost the contract and had to wait 4 years to bid for it again which, fortunately, they won back with the help of our expert bid writing services.

Plan

Every bid needs to be treated as you would with any project that you are involved in. Planning is absolutely crucial! 

Received the tender documents and don’t know where to start? Read our quick guide on how to prepare and plan your response to tender documents here.

When thinking about planning, think about other areas other than the submission deadline. 

Of course, this is key and allows you to set out your timetable to complete the bid, but there is much more that comes into play. The things to include in your plan are: 

  • Who is writing what part of the bid 
  • When are you submitting the bid and how 
  • What are your win themes (the points that will make you the choice and not a choice) 
  • Who will review the bid, when and how long it will take
  • What documents need including in the bid and are they up to date 
  • What evidence will you include in your bid

Pro Tip


If in doubt, ask a question to the buyer

Copy & Paste

As a professional and specialist bid writing company, we advocate the copy and paste technique. However, we also advocate tailoring the copy and pasted text to suit the question and the specification. 

Remember, each bid is unique regardless of how similar questions are to other bids you have written. Copying and pasting text is fine as long as you then go through it so it fits the bid you are responding to. 

We have seen a huge number of bids where text has been copied and pasted, then not checked. 

The result? 

Word counts exceeded (making your bid non-compliant) and/or generic text that doesn’t answer the question. Worse still, text that contains the names of other organisations other than the one you are bidding to!

Win Themes

The win theme/s that you adopt and apply throughout your bid are essential. By having a win theme, you will already be making steps ahead of your competitors. 

The win themes are not your general unique selling points (USPs); they are unique to each bid you write and are dependent on the following:

  • Your knowledge of your customer 
  • Your knowledge of your competition 
  • Your knowledge of yourselves. 

As an example, if you are bidding for a service and you have been presented with an award for that service, then you use that appropriately throughout your bid. As another example, if you know your customer champions innovation, you refer to your innovative methods with evidence throughout your bid.

Pro Tip


Make sure you are clearly explaining the benefit & value of your service/product

Style

This is a “quick fix” that can be easily and instantly applied to your bids. We’ve mentioned previously that bids tend to be put off until the very last minute. As a result, the bid becomes a rushed effort, potentially with little thought about how it actually looks. 

The bid is a reflection of you and the service that you will provide. You are a professional and you offer a high quality service, which means your bid should be the same. 

Things you need to consider: 

  • Sentence length (we’ve read bids that contain sentences that are over 90 words long!) 
  • Avoid the use of jargon; especially any in-house phrases/terminology 
  • If you use abbreviations/acronyms, make sure they are defined 
  • Use plain English and avoid what could be considered pompous.
  • Use “s” instead of “z” in words such as maximise and organise

As an idea, review your organisation’s House Style. If you’ve not got one, it’s a good idea to pull one together. This will save an incredible amount of time on future bids.

Presentation

A good approach is to think about how you can make your bid stand out. You need to remember that the bidding process is competitive and that the buyers will be reading a significant number of submissions. 

Pages and pages of blocks of text will test the attention of even the most astute assessor. We would always suggest that when you write, you should aim to help the reader and make them want to read your bid. 

Even on prescriptive bids (those where the question is in one box and the answer goes in another), there are opportunities to enhance your submission. Some very simple techniques include: 

  • Process flow diagrams 
  • Presenting text in tables 
  • Photos 
  • Structuring your response using clear headings (that match the question)

Evidence

Evidence is so crucial to your bid and a point or a tiny percentage can make the difference between a successful bid and an unsuccessful bid. 

We have seen feedback from buyers that says that the reason another bidder was successful was due to them including a policy to support their response. 

Where applicable, anything that you talk about within your bid should be backed-up with evidence. When we talk about evidence, it is not those documents that the bidder is requesting. 

Is there anything else that supports your bid? For example: 

  • Testimonials 
  • Photos 
  • Statistics 
  • Value of cost savings 
  • CVs

Pro Tip


This type of information can be collated and maintained outside of a live bid, meaning it is there ready for when you need it!

For more expert bid writing tips, along with guidance and considerations on the tender process, you can view or download our bid writing guide here

With an average success rate of over 75% for our clients, we know how to write winning bids and can provide further support to businesses across a range of industries. If you’re looking to maximise your bid writing success, get in touch with our team today!

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