Three Reasons Why Your Last Bid Failed — And How to Fix Them

Spoiler alert: you probably didn’t lose your last bid because of price. It also probably wasn’t because the deal was fixed from the outset. These are the consolations many companies tell themselves when they are unsuccessful in tenders. We get it. You put all your best people on a tender and committed vast amounts of time and resources to it. But all you got back was a proforma response from the buyer and some scanty feedback. It’s demoralizing. Especially when it keeps happening.

It’s tempting to draw the conclusion that the buyers aren’t interested in quality or the contractor that won was in from the start. The more likely truth is that your bid failed because you failed to convince the buyer that you could deliver what they needed better than the competition.

The good news is that if it’s not price, and the deal wasn’t fixed from the outset, you can do something about it. Here are three sure ways to lose a bid, and how to solve them.

1. Too Many People Involved

It’s a big contract so you’ve pulled in all the help you can get. You’ve got your subject-matter experts completing their sections. You’ve got various people in the process with differing opinions on what needs to go where. And you’ve got multiple writers assigned on top of their ‘normal’ job trying to pull it all together.

Result: Writing is often rushed and incoherent, a mis-mash of styles and English language usage. This means seemingly endless re-writes that suck time and resources. You face a continual agony trying to get the word count back down below the stated limit.

How to fix: Agree on the structure of the responses and who is going to contribute what before you begin writing. Your buyer is reading a huge volume of submissions. Your task is to make their job easierwhich in turn will suggest to them that you are easy to work with. The quality of your writing is the first taste of the quality of the work your organization will deliver. So make sure your response is well structured, easy to read, consistent and error-free.

2. Not Planning Properly Before You Start

In the excitement about the opportunity and the keenness to get going, it is common for people to start work on a bid before you’ve properly worked through all the buyer’s information and worked out how you want to structure the response.

Result: Your writing is confusing to read and your proposed solutions are not clear to the buyer. You overwhelm them with too much information and you risk submitting a non-compliant bid. Tender requirements are highly structured and specific. Not providing exactly what they ask for is telling your buyer that you can’t follow simple instructions. Giving them lots of extra, unrequested information is, at best, annoying to your reader and, at worst, could cost you critical marks.

How to fix: It is essential to fully research and understand the requirement before any writing begins. This includes reading the specification and any associated information provided by the buyer (more than once) and ensuring that you have mapped out everything they are looking for. Once you have done this, you need to:

    1. Determine and agree your proposed solution.
    2. Ensure that you can evidence related experience for each criteria.
    3. Assign clear roles for putting the responses together.

3. You Failed to Differentiate Yourself From the Competition

If weekend and evening work, all-nighters and a last-minute rush to the finish line sound familiar, you are not managing time well. If you are too busy just trying to get the responses written in time then there won’t be enough time to focus on making your submissions compelling or to emphasize your unique selling points.

Result: You may just about pull off a fully compliant bid. You may pull it out of the bag and submit the bid 15 minutes before the deadline meeting all the criteria for qualifications and experience and evidencing your responses. But what if your competitors do that as well? You have failed to give your bid its winning edge.

How to fix: Allow enough lead-in time and resources. For every response, make sure you have the time to define what makes you a better choice than the competition. Identify your edge and the added value you can offer. Ensure your writing shows your company’s personality. Don’t be afraid to write with passion and empathy.

Better Writing Increases Your Win Chance

A critical factor in lost bids is time. A bid writing process that gives you more time results in better organization which, in turn, leads to a higher standard of writing. A simple step to set you on that path is to run PerfectIt on all your bid responses. PerfectIt saves hours checking for small mistakes so you have more time to focus on writing your winning message. PerfectIt can help you achieve consistency across your entire proposal and ensure it speaks with ‘one voice’.

To increase your chances of winning, it’s important to make it easy for evaluators to review your proposal quickly and easily. This means eliminating confusion and errors. Make sure that every acronym is defined, spellings and punctuation are consistent and that no comments are left in the text. PerfectIt can help to ensure that your writing is as clear and concise as possible. It will locate inconsistent spellings and mis-used terms that grammar and spell checkers can’t find. It will also check acronym definitions and produce a table of acronyms with their definitions for you. PerfectIt can even be customized to identify common weak and wasted words in your proposals so that you can eliminate those and give more room for powerful, compelling ones.

Not Just Compliant, but Compelling!

Your buyer is not just looking for a company to deliver a contract. They are looking for a company they can work with; that they can rely on to communicate well and deliver high-quality service with minimal problems and mistakes. It is not just what you say in your proposal that tells them whether you are that company, but also how you say it. Make sure your bid is not only compliant but compelling, and clearly tells the buyer why they need to choose you.

PerfectIt takes the pressure off by quickly checking your documents for mistakes, acronyms and inconsistencies. It gives you time to really focus on your writing to ensure your bid stands out from the crowd. To try PerfectIt for free on your next bid (with no credit card or personal information required), click to download now.

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