22 Jul Identifying an edge over your competition
Sometimes it can be difficult to understand how your company has lost out on a bid to a competitor; you had a better product, better service, you know you gave an extremely competitive price, so why didn’t you win? Winning a bid isn’t just about having the best price or product, although that is the easiest place to start, it’s about presenting the information to the Client, in the way required, to tick the right boxes vs. your competitors.
Here are some key areas to consider for gaining that advantage:
Know your Client
The absolute best way you can set yourself apart from the competition is to have a great Client Relationship before the bid or tender is released. Although, depending on the type of industry involved, it is advisable that accounts managers and key persons meet with clients throughout the year to determine focus areas and make bid managers aware of such focusses.
For some projects key facts about the client preferences may not be detailed in the tender documents therefore Client knowledge provided by a good relationship will provide the winning edge you need. Where there is no existing Client relationship, make sure to take advantage of any chance to open dialogue with the Client during the bid process, whether that be through clarification questions, or the chance to meet in person, for example at a Bidder Events or Briefing held by the Client.
Know your competition
Take a moment to jot down who you are most likely to be competing against in this bid, can you predict what they will be offering? If so, list how your proposed solutions compare. What are your strengths and weaknesses over the competition? How can you overcome the weaknesses so that your bid doesn’t fall short? Ensuring you have found solutions for any potential weaknesses in your offering will demonstrate that you have really considered the Client needs and help you gain that edge over your competition.
Give it a positive charge
Try to avoid pointing out what the competition can’t do and instead focus on what you know you can do better. Any negative comments towards your competition could put you at risk of looking bitter or unprofessional, instead, push the areas where you know you are stronger; the Client themselves will see the benefits of your proposal. If there is a feature or service the client is asking for that only you can provide, make sure to feature it in the executive summary and reference it where relevant in the responses. We also recommend consider and dismiss. If you know there are competitors who will propose specific solutions which you don’t offer yourself or support, you could mention that you have considered that feature and dismissed it as irrelevant to this opportunity because. Without naming your competition you have helped plant a seed of doubt on solutions they may put forward.
Take the time to tailor your answers to individual Clients and their needs. Everyone is short of time and it is understandable that this leads to taking shortcuts, especially when you know that your product fits the requirements, however a tailored response will instantly stand out over responses made primarily of generalised marketing materials or hard to navigate technical specifications.
Get a second opinion from someone not in the know
If you are writing on a subject you have years of experience in, it is possible to subconsciously gloss over areas that are common sense to you. Have your final document reviewed by an independent third party; this will ensure that you aren’t missing anything that might seem obvious to you, but needs further explanation to a Client. Potentially, this can be another person within your organisation, who doesn’t necessarily work in the same area of expertise or, on the other hand, someone impartial from outside the business.
Shout it from the rooftops!
Won any awards or received good reviews lately? Where a bid allows, demonstrate clearly how the Client won’t be alone in deciding you are the best choice over your competitors. Where restrictive bid instructions mean you can’t include this in your response, ensure your company website is up to date with this information; the Client is bound to research you!
In conclusion, the best way to win a bid and stand out from the competition is to focus on the Client and what they want; be clear on how you are going to meet, and exceed those requirements through exceptional service delivery and then ensure that you have captured all these elements into the submission.