Bid professionals are core to the success of bid proposals and are often the difference needed to deliver a winning bid. But what exactly do these specialists have to keep in mind?
It turns out that a significant number of the considerations begin the letter ‘C’. Here are 30 Cs which are essential to a bid professional:
Establishing the right culture is essential within the bidding industry. This will allow for bid professionals to be challenged for further growth and development whilst simultaneously giving them the opportunity to shine and be recognised.
Teamwork should also be a part of this culture – all work should be recognised as a team effort! Moreover, it is also important for all successes and victories to be celebrated by the entire team.
A key element to securing that desired contract begins with the strategies used to capture information (e.g. what is going on with the business development / sales or even the relationship functions within the business). These details can then be used to underline the ‘bid winning themes’ and develop the ideal capture strategy for that specific opportunity.
The best and most successful bids are always client-focused. A bid proposal which is focused on addressing the needs and interests of the client will always be much more effective and powerful than a bid proposal which simply describes themselves as a business.
In every contract there will be end-customers or end-users of the product or service. Within the public sector, these could be the students attending schools/universities or the patients using the hospitals. Bid professionals should also consider these customers within their bid proposals.
Of course, the actual content of the bid proposals must be high quality! However, the content must be appealing both in the writing and in the layout. An effective method is ‘frontloading’ which involves presenting the most important points first. This can attract the evaluators’ attention and help win more bids.
Bid professionals will inevitably work with many individuals e.g. subject matter experts (SMEs). These different colleague relationships can often be integral to the success of bid proposals.
To develop and maintain a good colleague relationship, bid professionals should be diplomatic and empathetic. This will help promote collaboration and co-operation which are discussed below.
A single person will never have all the answers; hence, collaboration is essential to a successful bid proposal. Collaboration with others (e.g. sub-consultants, sub-contractors, specialists and SMEs) will often shape a valuable section of the bid proposal which could potentially impact the result!
Co-operating with colleagues promotes that teamwork culture mentioned at the beginning. At times, it may involve some sacrifice (e.g. being prepared to work late) but it is crucial to be willing and ready to co-operate to achieve the best results possible.
It is vital for bid professionals to have good and effective communication with all those involved throughout the bid process. This will allow for any issues or concerns within the bid to be identified and tackled quickly and efficiently.
Bid professionals should be aware of the competitors within the market – from the incumbent contractor to market leaders to new disruptive challengers. It is crucial that bid professionals have this information for consideration within the bid process.
Every bid will involve an element of commercials (i.e. costs, pricing, contractuals). These include the costs involved to deliver the goods or services and of course the margin on the work.
The contractuals (the conditions/terms) are directly linked to the commercials. Thus, it is necessary to have an accurate picture of the commercials (or hire an external cost consultancy if unsure) so that the contract can be priced correctly with the right set of contractuals.
Coalface refers to the people who are directly involved in delivering the goods or services described in the contract. These people have information about the actual processes and operations going on, which could potentially influence the shaping of the bid proposals.
Bid professionals will be eternally curious! When working with colleagues (e.g. SMEs), the curiosity of the bid team will likely lead to questions which can then help capture information and shape bid proposals.
There will be times when a bid professional should respectfully challenge ideas from their colleagues (e.g. SMEs). Sometimes this can prompt positive changes to the bid proposal, which otherwise, would have remained unchanged and could result in an unsuccessful bid.
Clarifications are vital within a bid. These can help ensure that all bidders are on a level playing field and are accounting for all the same costs and requirements. This helps prevent bidders from winning through the exploitation of the buyer’s lack of clarity.
Unfortunately, not all SMEs deliver on their promises to give certain information by a specified date or to the expected quality. Thus, it is important to have contingencies in place – a Plan B and sometimes a Plan C as well – to help tackle any unexpected events.
Bid proposals should be consistent (e.g. using the same terminologies) throughout the writing. For example, in a bid to a social housing organisation, are they talking about tenants, residents, customers or people?
The writing of the bid should flow and harmonise together – like it was written by a single person! There should also be a congruence in the bid win themes (i.e. there should be no contradictions). So, if you are describing your proposal as strong in value for money, your price should not be the most expensive!
Some bids can be quite complex and can contain a lot of technical terminologies. All of these should be clearly explained to the reader so that they can understand and enjoy reading the bid proposal. Not all on the evaluation panel may be specialists in your niche sector.
Bid proposals should always be clear on what commitments and offers are being made to the buyers.
Bid proposals should also involve creative thinking – not only in their writing but also within their design. The use of colour, graphics or infographics can help support the writing and distinguish the bid proposal from the other bids.
The bid writing should convey to the buyer that they are dealing with a clever business partner – perhaps leading the market through innovation or good leadership. The buyer should feel that they are getting a secondary advisor instead of just another supplier or contractor.
Bid professionals should be continuously striving to improve. Their bid proposals should be getting better and better as they accumulate more experience and knowledge around clients and markets. Internal lessons learned and detailed buyer feedback should be used to help achieve this.
Being an incumbent contractor or a market leader (or similar) can sometimes lead to complacency. However, bid professionals should always go into each tender opportunity like it is an exciting, brand-new opportunity. Do not assume anything!
It is crucial that everything within the bid proposals is being constantly checked by several people to ensure that no important details have been left out or incorrectly used.
There will be mandatory requirements which can invalidate a bid if not satisfied. Therefore, it is crucial for bid professionals to conduct compliance checks before submitting bid proposals.
Bid professionals can benefit from having a coach whom they can potentially learn from. Seek out coaches or mentors along your career journey.
Bid professionals should have the time and opportunity to develop their careers (e.g. via APMP professional certifications).
There are benefits to working with bidding consultants who will have significant bidding experience and expertise. This is an opportunity to learn from them as well as importantly helping to improve your bid success rates.