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The Secret to Winning Bids

Posted On - 20/01/2017 07:44:37

Tendering for work is competitive, it's taking a chance. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Just make sure when you do, you've got the best chance of winning possibleBids, quotations and proposals. Tools of business development. Documents that help you win work and contracts.

Note the word "win". You wouldn't go to the trouble of crafting these unless there was good reason. And sure, these documents serve a purpose - creating a pageant so a buyer can compare and choose who they like best.

Tendering for work is competitive, it's taking a chance. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try. Just make sure when you do, you've got the best chance of winning possible.

Ten things you need to know about writing winning bids

At the 2016 Target Components Open Day we did some new things. One was to stage more business advice aimed at our B2B, etail and Systems Integrator customers. Now that led to all sorts of things – we'll be posting about them over the coming weeks – but one was to invite Marcus Eden-Ellis founder and owner of Bid Perfect.

Bid Perfect provides bid management services. It helps businesses improve their win rates and get better at business development. You can see his session – "Ten things you need…" here. Useful stuff. Especially if you're bidding to win maintenance work, quote for a high-performance custom build or make a proposal to upgrade an entire network - servers, networking and desktops. Take a look. What he says might surprise you.

People buy what they believe in

We're not about to regurgitate what Marcus said – he does it brilliantly (see it here). Instead we're going to concentrate on the fundamentals. The key issues that matter in all business development.

Sure, bids have to be well written. They need to sell without selling. Language, spelling and punctuation must all be spot on. Clearly you need to be able to do what's required. And so on. Easy no?

Well, maybe not. Because while it's easy to get carried away with the mechanics of writing your bid, quotation or proposal – dotting the I's and crossing the t's, making sure it reads well and makes complete sense, double checking you've set out everything the customer requires - will the buyer believe you? Are they convinced you can really do the job? Will they trust you with their business?

It's about their needs, not your solution

You'd never say "I can't do this" in a bid, quote or proposal. You're out to sell after all. Buyers know this. They know you want the work. They know you're out to impress. They know you'll do pretty much anything to get the work. So they also know they can't trust your word.

If all they can see in your bid is "I can do this work because I say so" you've lost to the one that says "I can do this because here are examples of work I've done just like it". Problem is that bid will lose too - to the one that says "these are your needs and here are examples of how I've met them with customers like you".

Sure, your bids need peppering with hard evidence and testimonials you can do the work. But most of all they must always be crystal clear you've tailored what you do to suit requirements. Not just wrapped their needs around what you want to do. Everyone believes their business is unique, special and particular. You need to prove you get that. And show you've taken it into account.

Don't bid at the edge of your capabilities

You wouldn't bid to maintain Macs if all you knew was PC. You wouldn't bid for work with businesses if all you'd done was home visits. Makes sense no? Begs questions about how you grow your business but that's for another time.

The point is this. Sure, you wouldn't bid for work you can't do. Clearly that's daft. But you also shouldn't bid for anything you could do, but don't now. Or anything you can but would be at your limits. Why? It's not about whether you could learn or make a good job of it if you got the chance. It's that you'll be up against others who clearly can. The buyer's not out to give the chance or opportunity to have a go and hope. They want a job done well. They want certainty. And unless you can give it you're out.

So yes, you may be able to provide help desk support 24/7. And while you could outsource it you decide you'll do it between your staff. You'll split the work. You'll work shifts. It's a stretch but you can cover it.

Or you may be able to provide on-site support across five sites. You've two offices positioned perfectly both have vans. You can split the work between you and your two staff. It's a stretch but you can cover it.

We're not telling you not to bid for work like this. But before you do ask yourself: "Would I be convinced by my bid? Would I feel, given my capabilities, I could do the work comfortably? Would I feel I'm the best choice? Do I genuinely believe I've a good chance of winning?"

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