If you are not fully satisfied with your bid writing ability and wondering what you could do to improve it, there is one simple solution you can implement today – start asking questions.

It’s that simple.

Asking contracting authorities for clarification and feedback will give you so much useful information that’ll help make your bids noticeably stronger.


When should I ask tender related questions?

In advance of tenders being published

Gain an understanding of the market by contacting buyers about their procurement needs and asking what they look for in bid responses. This one is a bit unorthodox, but in one of our other posts we talk about Pre-engagement Activities, and how developing a relationship with buyers can be beneficial for you in the long run.
So, if you are expecting to be bidding for work with certain buyers – why not ask questions such as:

‘What are the most common mistakes suppliers make in their bids?’

‘What is the real problem you be looking to solve with this procurement?’

‘What would your ideal solution look like?

‘What risks or concerns do you have about a supplier delivering the solution?’


During the clarification period

Whether you are bidding for local or central government contracts, you will have a clarification period before the deadline to ask the buyer any relevant questions you may have. If you don’t fully understand what the buyer is asking for, whether it be confusing terminology or vague specifications, you stand a better chance of winning the work by using the designated communications channels and getting clarification before you submit a bid.

To ensure the tendering process is transparent and all suppliers receive the same information, your question and the buyer’s answer will be made available to all.

If you are going to make use of the clarification process, we recommend considering the following:
◆ reread the documents and requirements to ensure nothing has been overlooked or that your answer has not already been provided or that the question has not already been asked.
◆ review the content of your question and make sure you are happy for it to be read by the buyer and the other suppliers bidding for the contract.
◆ Ensure you don’t include anything identifying your organisation – as your question could be published with the answer.


After the contract has been awarded – whether successful or not

When you are unsuccessful it can be easy to accept the loss and just move on to the next opportunity, but what if you were the second choice, or assumed you scored well when in fact your responses did not meet the buyer’s needs? Would you want to know?
Even when you are successful, it is unlikely you scored full marks and the reasons you won the work could be different to what you assumed.

Seeking feedback for every bid you submit should be standard practice.

When you have gone through a formal tender process with a public sector buyer, they are obligated to provide feedback to you, win or lose. The feedback requirement differs whether it is a high or low value tender but they should always provide your scores relative to the winning bid(s). For high value tenders the buyer is obligated to provide a summary of the reasons for the scoring as well as the scoring itself.

Always request further details about why you submission (including particular answers) was scored as it was. If you are not asking buyers why you won or lost a contract, you are missing vital information that can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses.

It’s important to gather as much feedback as you can, to discuss it as on organisation and incorporate it to improve your future submissions.  That’s how you will improve over time.


Do you know when your bid is good enough to submit?

As we have covered above, asking buyers questions offers you a greater understanding of their needs as well as your own strengths and weaknesses. However, we have not looked at the important question you need to ask yourself:

‘Is my bid good enough to submit?’

We all have doubts, and sometimes we find opportunities that have us questioning our own abilities because we know how significant they are. If you ever find yourself in this situation and questioning the quality of your proposal, we would be happy to put your mind at rest by conducting a bid review for you.

Our consultants manage and prepare bids for businesses of all sizes across every industry and know what a good proposal looks like. We can review your bid and offer recommendations on where we think you could achieve higher scores. Please look at our full range of consultancy services, and get in touch should you ever need assistance – you can always count on us for support.

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