08 May The Art of Bid Writing
Writing your Way to Successful Business Contracts
You’re looking for a new employee and in walks someone in ripped jeans and a stained t-shirt for interview. What would be your first impression? Not great! Compared to the previous six candidates in smart suits, you’re probably putting this person to the bottom of the list. If they can’t make an effort at interview stage, what makes you think they’ll put any more effort into their role?
Similarly, if you’re looking for new business, a poorly written bid won’t get you very far through the door no matter how expert your company is in that field.
Successful tender and bid writing is a key factor in winning new business for all sizes of company.
If you choose to go for a tender that matches your business, you’ll need to have good writing skills. Your document won’t get past the starting post if it’s full of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or just off topic and rambling. In the worst case scenario, a misplaced typo that changes the meaning of a sentence could mean the difference between win or lose.
The benefit to having well-written bid documents is that they can also work as an extra member of the sales team. While you’re involved with other opportunities, they’re out there in front of the decision makers and potentially winning you more work.
So what’s the best way to guarantee a well-written bid?
You need to know your objectives. What is it that you can offer the client? What do they need and how can you best provide it? Keep it positive, provide plenty of relevant case studies (if asked) and focus on a win-win scenario for you and the client.
Always plan the structure – include the beginning, middle and end with section headings to highlight the important points.
Tailor the bid to the client – they want to know you understand the brief and can deliver what they need. Generic responses show a lack of engagement – if you’re churning out ‘one size fits all’ answers, it shows.
Write simply. I don’t mean ‘We can build your house’ simple but plain English always works. Remember that your audience may not be native English speakers and, even if they are, they don’t want to wade through pages of complex and flowery sentences that belong in the Victorian era.
Grammar is everything.
Also, be aware of basic grammar, style and spelling errors which flag up a poorly written bid. One example is starting a sentence with ‘there is’ or ‘there are’. Try rewording the sentence to start with a verb or ‘I’ or ‘you’, otherwise it sounds lazy. Restructuring to include a verb gives the sentence a bit more of a punch. For example:
“There are 12 bricklayers who can do the job now.”
“We have twelve qualified bricklayers who will be available immediately.”
Be careful with commonly misspelled words, such as ‘except’ v ‘accept’. It can change the meaning of a sentence completely if used incorrectly. For example:
“We currently except all forms of payment.”
That’s not very helpful for the client as you’ve just told them that you don’t take payment. Your accounts department won’t thank you for it either. The correct word in this case is ‘accept’.
Work to your strengths.
If you’re highly skilled in your trade and you have an expert team behind you, that contract is worth pursuing. However if you know your writing is less than perfect and you’d much rather be out there doing the job, this is where bid support companies come into their own.
Bid support companies know the ropes. They can write. They can format the application in the prescribed style for the client and they know how to sell your company. If writing a fifty page document evidencing your company’s skills leaves you cold then leave it to the experts. If you feel confident enough to write a bid yourself, keep in mind the points we’ve mentioned above and good luck!