Whether you’re a solo bid writer or part of a broader business development team, there are many skills required to secure the award of a contract and bid writing ability itself is just one of them. So, if you’re building a team or developing your own skillset, what other key capabilities are required?
With a limited window of opportunity between publication and deadline staying on schedule is paramount: even if you’ve seen the contract coming and have a bank of bid documentation ready, copy and paste jobs won’t cut it and rogue questions may force you to gather last minute information.
You need a standard but adaptable project plan where the deadline for submission is only one of several key milestones. Completing documents that require the input of multiple employees can easily become a quagmire of out-of-offices and a burden on people’s time, so the ability to plan your timings back from the deadline and build in tolerances for administrative delays is crucial.
Even if you work well under pressure, you need to avoid sitting in the office all evening like a student binge-writing their dissertation the night before the due date – quality will suffer and consequently so will your score and chances of success.
Identifying new markets and partnerships and the process of generating, nurturing and converting leads is somewhat different when your selling to the public rather than private sector, but the fundamentals remain the same.
The most switched-on bid teams think several moves ahead and lay the groundwork for future bids by conducting early and account management-style engagement with buyers in order to gain intelligence on the timing and nature of planned procurements and gain breathing space to prepare.
Any experience or ability in building B2B sales pipelines is perfect for implementing this kind of bid strategy. Most businesses already have these skills in-house – could there be a cross-team synergy? For small teams or individual bid writers in particular, a strategic and selective approach is likely to bear more fruit and be less burdensome than constantly committing to speculative bids.
Novelists aren’t required, but clear and concise communicators are. This is not to say there’s no room for a bit of flair in your bid writing, but there’s a fine balance to achieve between efficiently stating your capabilities and making your submission stand out. Engaging with specialist consultants can help you find the right mix of substance and style for the public sector market.
Aside from a technical focus, a keen eye is necessary when creating and editing complex documents: losing focus on the question is all too easy and an otherwise excellent bid can crash and burn due to small, avoidable errors.
Don’t throw away many hours of work just because you couldn’t bear to read through your documents one final time!
Much like the distinction between bids and bestsellers, tender documents may not be brochures but a sprinkling of marketing magic always stands you in good stead.
While you’re not scored on how eye catching or smooth your content is, readability is important and the best bid writers will intersperse a submission with evidence of their unique suitability such as awards and certificates where appropriate.
The challenge is to answer the questions directly and comprehensively while also standing out from the crowd. Procurement teams are human too – with the right approach and enough care your bid can be the one out of a stack of ten that catches their eye.