If you are not fully satisfied with your bid writing ability and wondering what you could do to improve it, there is a simple solution you can implement today…

Start asking questions.

Asking contracting authorities for clarification during the tendering process, and seeking feedback after, will give you valuable information that you can use to help make your bids noticeably stronger.

When should I ask tender related questions?

To make sure you have access to the most beneficial information, you should think about asking questions before, during and after the tendering process.

Asking questions before tenders have been published

Gain an understanding of the market by contacting buyers about their procurement needs and asking what they look for in bid responses. This 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.

If you are targeting specific buyers, or know which authorities you will are likely to publish relevant opportunities, you can start building a relationship by asking 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?
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Asking questions during the clarification period

Whether you are bidding for local or central government contracts, there will be a clarification period before the deadline allowing you to ask buyers 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 other interested parties.

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 that will identify your organisation – as your question could be published with the answer.

Asking for feedback 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 buyer’s second choice? Or what if you assumed your bid scored well when in fact your responses did not meet the requirements? 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 on 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 must provide a summary of the reasons for the scoring and the scoring itself.

Always request further details about why your 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, discuss it as an organisation, and incorporate it in future submissions.

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 significant opportunities that make us question our own abilities. If you ever find yourself in this situation, 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 great proposals look 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.