You know a bid is coming to market, so what can you do ahead of time to make sure you give yourself the best chance of a successful, efficient bid writing process?
Do your research
There is a lot of publicly available information that can help give you an edge over your competition such as:
Contract award notices – public sector buyers will often publish notices on contracts they have awarded which can include some very helpful information, whether this is on similar contracts or the previous version of the contract you are bidding for. This information can include who the successful bidder was, the start and end dates of the procurement process so you get an idea of how much time you might have, if the contract was split into separate lots and even the winning bidder’s price.
Buyer website – have a good dig around as it could include helpful information such as procurement strategies that detail how contracts are being procured, charity / social commitments (so you can align your CSR / social value commitments) and key points of contacts with biographies and background information you can use to inform your bid.
Go to the Meet the Buyer Day
If the client is hosting a meet the buyer day – go! This is a good opportunity to get face-to-face with the people marking your bid, ask questions, identify the competition and glean key nuggets of information that might not be published.
Communicate before the procurement process begins
Both public and private sector buyers will want to avoid direct contact during the procurement process. If you know a client you want to work with, contact them before they release a contract. This will put you on their radar and help ensure you are invited to bid. You may even be given the opportunity to inform the RFP or ITT specification e.g. via soft market testing or by responding to a Prior Information Notice.
Prepare your information
There is some information that you can start gathering before the RFP / ITT is released to give you a head start on your bid writing. This can include delivery team CVs, details of your resources (e.g. staff numbers, plant and vehicles), details of the IT equipment that will be used in delivery, insurance / accreditation certificates, credentials, case studies and testimonials.
If you are the incumbent supplier, you may wish to conduct independent customer reviews ahead of the tender process starting to get honest feedback on your service delivery to date.
Engage your Subject Matter Experts
Speak to people delivering your services to find out what works well and what doesn’t to help inform your bid solution.
Find out what their capacity will be to assist you with the bid writing and find out how you can make their involvement as easy as possible. For example, do they want you to give them templates? Content already written as a starter for 10? Or will they prefer to tell you on the phone?
Try to get your delivery staff to ‘think bid’. Stories of going above and beyond or strong feedback from a client on the ground are bid gold dust. These are often found at the frontline and don’t always make it to the Boardroom. It is important that examples of best practice and positive customer feedback are fed to those managing the bid.