With no prizes for second place, tenders are an expensive business. It can be a costly exercise in terms of time and money, and in most cases a shotgun approach will not work. To be successful you need to develop a winning bid strategy and ensure a well-planned approach.
Many businesses are restricted on time and find pitching an overwhelming prospect with limited resources. To help, PitchThis have six key things to consider when you spot an opportunity you are considering submitting a tender for:
1. Should you even pitch?
An honest bid, no-bid discussion is essential. Have you been invited to pitch? Do you have a previous relationship? Are they happy with their incumbent? Will it profitable? Does it fit your business model? Only you can determine whether you are in with a shot. If not, perhaps decline the bid and pursue the relationship in other ways so you are better placed for the next time.
If you decide to pitch, great! Properly commit and make sure you have enough time to place yourself in the best position.
2. What can you offer?
Before you write anything, think about your offering and how it benefits the client. Can you save them money? Reduce time? Minimise risk?
What solution do you have that is more compelling than your competitors? Do you have an innovative approach, or key experience they won’t find elsewhere?
Carefully consider your proposition and distil it into five or so key messages.
3. Is it a strong enough proposition?
Be honest… is it a strong enough offering? If not, you may want to reconsider whether you should bid. Or it may need strengthening in a few areas. Carefully consider the RFP or RFT and check out the evaluation criteria. Work out what they are looking for and if you are a good fit. If your proposed solution isn’t strong enough it can be a waste of time for them and for you too. In some cases, it could even discredit you and your brand if you decide to bid on something you aren’t really geared up for. Once you have worked out your offering and are happy that the proposition is compelling enough, the writing can begin!
4. How do we write it?
Keep the bid team tight. Assign a project manager and allocate clear responsibilities and timings. Start with a skeleton draft and map out the content and key messages. Explain the benefits for the client and provide evidence to support track record – case studies, testimonials, key successes, feedback data etc. Read the questions carefully… remember it’s about them, not you, so answer what you are being asked and not what you want to tell them. Build-in ample review time and ensure your proposition and key messages are clear and easy to understand.
5. Does it look good enough?
Even the most amazing written response needs to look good. You can spend hours on the content but if it isn’t visually appealing, will anyone read it? Use headers to carve up text, include boxes for key messages, use bullets to split out lists, add infographics and use pictures. Keep it simple, remove the jargon and place yourself in the reader’s shoes. Make it a pitch document that people want to read. The balance between too much and too little can be tricky.
Try and make sure you appeal to different audiences. Make it easy for skim readers to quickly work out your solution and key messages, however make sure you provide enough content for a reader that requires more detailed content. Different audiences are looking for different things so you need to consider the various ways your content will be viewed.
6. Do we know why we won or lost?
Once the bid is submitted it’s a waiting game. Regardless of the result, seek feedback where possible. If you were unsuccessful, find out why so you can fix it for next time. Congratulations if you won! But don’t forget to find out why they chose you. Understanding the reasons why you win and lose can help you refine and reinforce your position for your next bid.
There’s no doubt pitching can be a tricky business. This is often why businesses engage experts like PitchThis to help with their tenders and bids. We specialise in helping navigate the whole process by offering a complete service ranging from initial development and structuring to submitting the bid and presentation to follow up.
Find out more about our Bid Management Services here.
PitchThis can provide a range of business consultancy, training and mentoring services to assist with your bidding and business development needs. GET IN TOUCH with our team today for a no obligation 15-minute consultation