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The Importance of Bid Strategy

Written by Thornton & Lowe


Apr 16, 2024

Market research plays a pivotal role in the bidding process, offering a comprehensive understanding of the market and customer preferences. This understanding is crucial for tailoring bids that meet client expectations and outshine competitors.

Understanding Customer Preferences

Through strategies such as customer segmentation, data analysis, surveys, feedback, competitive analysis, and personalisation, businesses can gain insights into what potential clients are looking for in a product or service. This information is invaluable in crafting bids that are closely aligned with customer needs and preferences.

Identifying and Analysing Competitors

Knowing who your competitors are is just as crucial as understanding your customers. By leveraging previous tender results, market research, industry reports, client feedback, and online platforms, businesses can identify their main competitors. This knowledge allows them to strategically position their bids by emphasising their strengths and addressing areas where competitors may fall short.

Insights into Market Trends and Consumer Behaviour

Market research provides a deep dive into current market trends and consumer behaviour. This information is instrumental in developing offerings that not only meet market demands but also stand out from the competition. By analysing market trends, businesses can adjust their offerings and bid strategies to align with both current and future market conditions, ensuring their proposals are timely and relevant.

Market research is not just about gathering data; it's about making informed decisions that enhance the competitiveness and relevance of bids. By understanding customer preferences, identifying competitors, and keeping abreast of market trends, businesses can develop bid strategies that are both effective and dynamic, significantly increasing their chances of winning bids.

Identifying Your Competitors

Identifying competitors is a critical step in developing a robust bid strategy. Businesses can use many tools to analyse competitors and design their bid plans. In our article dedicated to competitor analysis we detail specific tools and research techniques to source who your public sector competitors are.

Analysing Competitors' Strengths and Weaknesses

Once you understand who you competitors are, a comprehensive competitor analysis may include several areas to explore such as your competitor capabilities, such as track record and reputation. Their resources and infrastructure, such as the financial, human, and technological resources at their disposal. Their capacity for innovation and their approach to managing risks. Their products and/or services and it is important you understand the quality, range, and how it solves your customers problems in comparison to your solution.

It is also important, where possible to analyse their pricing model and its competitiveness in the market. Contract award notices detail the winning price and alongside feedback from the tender you will may have a real tool to understand their pricing strategy.

Furthermore, their distribution channels and sales tactics can provide opportunities for your business based on their approach to market penetration and customer acquisition. This can include their use of frameworks, DPS agreementsand wider marketing strategy. This is covered further in our Ultimate Guide to Selling into the Public Sector.

Understanding value propositions and how they typically aim to set themselves apart through win theme analysis is also very important. Win themes are included within our Bid Writing Ultimate Guide. This content is often available on their website, clear from tender feedback and also via customer reviews, case studies and testimonials. Use these insights to uncover potential weaknesses in their offerings or opportunities for you to develop added value. By building systems and processes to inform your bid strategy, to complete market research and competitor analysis you will be proactive in understanding how competitors might leverage their advantages, and how you can aim to counter this, almost by default.

This thorough analysis not only highlights where competitors might have an edge but also uncovers potential gaps or weaknesses in their strategies. For instance, unrealistic assumptions, unsubstantiated claims, or poor presentation in competitors' proposals (or marketing collateral) can be identified and used to refine one's bid strategy. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of competitors through market segmentation and competitive analysis aids in crafting bids that effectively differentiate from others in specific industries or market sectors.

This strategic approach to competitor analysis is instrumental in developing a bid strategy that is not only competitive but also resonates with the target audience, ultimately increasing the likelihood of bid success.

The Role of SWOT Analysis in Bid Strategy Development

SWOT Analysis is essential in developing an effective bid writing and strategy.

A SWOT analysis need to be completed for your business (an internal analysis) and your competitors, based on common customer requirements.

Strengths for example, includes pinpointing what an organisation excels at, distinguishing it from competitors. It's about leveraging internal capabilities, such as superior technology, skilled workforce, or innovative processes, to gain an edge.

Weaknesses are of course areas requiring enhancement or where the business may lag behind competitors. This could range from operational inefficiencies to gaps in customer service, experience, evidence or product offerings.

Understanding ‘Opportunities’, involves recognising external factors that could be harnessed to the company's advantage. This could include market trends, regulatory changes, or technological advancements that open new avenues for growth or competitive superiority.

While ‘Threats’ are potential external challenges that might impede success, such as emerging competitors, shifts in consumer preferences, or economic downturns.

The SWOT analysis framework not only aids in assessing how well competitors can deliver in terms of scope, quality, and value but also in understanding the broader external and internal factors influencing a company's strategic position. By dissecting these components, businesses can craft a bid strategy that accentuates their strengths, addresses weaknesses, capitalises on opportunities, while mitigating threats.

Understanding the Customer's Needs and Expectations

Understanding the diverse needs and expectations of customers is paramount in crafting a successful bid strategy. It is important to understand typical customer requirements and trends in order to refine an overarching bid strategy, however when working on a live tender opportunity this research then needs to be further refined and based purely on that specific client.

What is typically important to customers?

Customers expect transparency in the bidding process, along with a proven track record of fairness, reliability, and authenticity. The best bids are ‘real’, they are specific, highly practical and based purely around the specific requirement. They have clear and detailed and this requires expertise and knowledgeable staff to contribute to what is required to produce a better customer experience, making customers feel valued and understood. By showing you understand broader challenges in the service delivery you highlight your experience even before any further evidence such as with case studies or testimonials.

While competitive pricing is a key consideration, quality is often preferred over price, indicating that customers are willing to pay more for superior products or services.

The desirability of items, influenced by pricing dynamics, item quality, and unique attributes, plays a significant role in attracting customers.

Building these insights into the bid strategy involves understanding customer preferences, ensuring transparency and trust, effective communication, and offering flexibility and personalisation.

SWOT Analysis Template

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Opportunity Assessment – Bid No Bid Assessment

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Bid Qualification Example – Bid No Bid Assessment Tool

Often in excel Bid Qualification and Planning tools, bid no bid assessments will likely cover:

  • Business fit; aligning with your bid strategy and experience.
  • Bid resource and costs; you have the bid writing and pricing capacity in order to submit a competitive tender submission. This may involve outsourcing your bid writing.
  • Customer; you understand the customer requirements and the benefit of your solution (linking to customer hot buttons) and may have a good relationship with key stakeholders.
  • Competition; you can see clear routes to counter the strengths of your competition, exploit their weaknesses and an assessment of the level of likely competitors for each live tender.
  • Solution; you can offer both a compliant and competitive offer or solution which meets or exceeds the customer’s requirements and differentiates you from your competition with supporting evidence.
  • Service Delivery; you understand the risks of delivery and have a resourcing plan which is in line with your bid strategy and pricing.
  • Commercials; you understand your pricing model, it is sustainable, competitive and are happy with the business terms.

Our bespoke bid qualification tools and bid strategy process documents often use a Likert scale in order for our clients to quickly assess and report on their bid decisions. Even if using the bid qualification tools do not change your decisions initially, having a clear record of your thoughts and rationale for bidding will help continuous improvement and as part of a tender debrief once you have feedback on the opportunity.

These examples can be used for new opportunities and competitor analysis. This is of course very basic but within our competitor analysis training and 1-2-1 bid management consultancy we refine and manage this process for our clients. For example, via our Bid Administration Service. For a SWOT for a new opportunity, we would compare the tender requirements to your competitor SWOT analysis in order to tailor USPs, potential discriminators and win themes.

This will include assessing relationships with the specific buyer, the nature of the incumbent (which may be your business), and specific sector experience for example.

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