10 common mistakes we see on bids

Often when companies first come to us, it is because they have had a string of bad results. You might find the last few bids have been unsuccessful, and the team are struggling to work out why, and losing confidence as they go.

Working with hundreds of businesses, we have seen a variety of tender submissions, and repeatedly see the same trends occurring on a lost bid. If you have a tender on the go, try to avoid these common mistakes we often see companies make:   

  1. No clear solution

Before you decide to bid, you need to be clear on your proposition. 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? Once you work this out, it needs to feature front and centre. Not just in the executive summary, but reinforced throughout the entire submission, such as methodology, project plans and team profiles .    

  1. Saying what you want (not what is being asked)

We see this often – you have invested time and money building your bid library and are keen to use it.  The danger of copying and pasting large untailored chunks of content, is that you are not answering the question. This may mean you are scoring low against the evaluation criteria, or at worst, not submitting a compliant response which scores zero and may take you out of the race. Recycling previous material is fine, but winning bids are those that have answered the questions properly and provided a tailored response against what is being asked.  

  1. Minimal tailoring

The proposal cover, letter and executive summary may mention the client’s name and project title but beyond that, there’s very little tailored content. If you want to persuade the buyer you are the right choice, you need to show you understand their requirements, have the right people in place, understand the likely issues, and provide a clear solution that is bespoke for that project.  

  1. Explaining features, not the benefits

Often, we see bids that explain the equipment being used or services provided but will focus on the technical details as opposed to selling the benefits to the client. For example, if you have a new piece of cleaning equipment, we will read the area it will clean, use of power or water etc but this doesn’t demonstrate to the client why it benefits them… will it save money, time, improve efficiencies etc? 

  1. Generic executive summaries

Nothing shouts generic as much as an untailored executive summary, where it’s clear the client’s name and project title has been changed and very little else. This summary page is one of your best shots of convincing the buyer why they should choose you. Invest time in this area and showcase that you understand the brief and have carefully considered your solution. Distill your summary into four or five key reasons you’re the right choice (and reinforce these throughout the entire submission).  

  1. Structure is hard to follow

We find this happens when companies are overly reliant on their bid library content. They don’t follow the order of the proposal request and drop content in as it suits – usually generic company information at the start followed by the requested tender schedules. Whilst this way makes it easier for you, it makes it much harder for the buyer to find the desired information and ultimately score you highly.  

  1. Too many words

We understand that some proposals need a lot of detail. Don’t assume your reader will read everything you have written, so we suggest you be selective on what you submit. Try carving your content up under headings or breaking it down into bullets or tables where possible, include pull quotes for key messages, and provide graphics where appropriate. Signpost clearly where they can find additional information so it’s easy to find should someone need it.  

  1. Lack of evidence

In modern bidding, the procurement process is using a weighted evaluation criteria which scores each question based on how thoroughly they have answered the question – and how well they have backed it up with evidence. Evidence helps give proof and builds trust. Saying you are ‘highly experienced’ or ‘an industry leader’ is great, but back it up with accolades/awards/recognitions and provide case studies where possible to support your claims.  

  1. Bids written for one type of audience

Companies often write for one type of audience and assume they will read everything in the order it has been written. When writing pitches, we suggest aiming for three audiences: the procurement/assessment team, senior stakeholders/advisors, and the operations/account team. You need enough detail to satisfy the people scoring your submission, have visuals and infographics to appeal to a skim reader (often the senior team) and a solid methodology/project plan along with team details, so the people who will be interacting with you are convinced that you can do the job and that they want to work with you.  

  1. Confusing pricing model 

Transparency rules. Make it as clear as possible what your pricing proposal is for your buyer. We often see complicated spreadsheets that makes it hard for the reader to understand the proposition. Having lots of detail isn’t a bad thing but provide an upfront summary so it’s clear. We don’t recommend hiding behind the numbers, be confident in your approach to pricing and be clear why and how it has been generated in this way. For example, if you suspect your proposal might be expensive compared to others, be clear on the value they receive with your solution and/or possible savings they may receive longer term with your approach. 

PitchThis is a team of passionate individuals who are serious about winning work for our clients. We are made up of bid and tendering specialists who understand the procurement regulations and know how to create persuasive pitches and presentations. Having worked on bids all over the world we adopt a best practice approach and help our clients avoid the common mistakes found in the bidding world. 

Get in touch if you have an upcoming strategic bid that needs a helping hand to take it to the next level. 

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.



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