Successful bid writing is about writing, producing and delivering a well-structured, client-focused,
benefit-led bid response supported and quantified by clear evidence.
To deliver a compliant and compelling bid narrative, we need to follow a structured approach to answer all of the questions clearly and concisely, including those underlying requirements hidden
between the lines.
Time spent conducting necessary research to obtain preparatory technical input and the bid-to-win strategy is essential. Therefore, the first bid editing stages must include reading all invitation
documents thoroughly and producing a detailed storyboard to prepare the technical content. The
storyboard will incorporate the structure of the response and the win themes that the bid strategy
It is challenging to tell the client as much as possible while complying with the question structure and
evaluation criteria. So, the bid writer must have access to resources to check both the technical
accuracy of the submission and ensure it meets the client’s evaluation criteria.
Analyzing requisites thoroughly and developing storyboards as the first part of the bid writing
process addresses these challenges.
[Planning your response through the use of storyboards]
Preparing to win
The first part of storyboarding involves identifying what makes our clients stand out from the competition. Therefore, we concentrate on the technical requirements and determine their most vital needs.
It is crucial to test these obligations against the competition to qualify our position to demonstrate that we can win the bid.
The storyboard structure and allocated themes should therefore be the starting point for the bid writers and include the following:
- The structure will be in line with the client requirements and client evaluation criteria.
- There is some flexibility in the word or page counts at this stage. Typically, writers are encouraged to write beyond the limits by about 50% to edit this down to the submission limits at the bid editing stage.
- Needs to specify the win themes, case studies, and project examples or statistics as evidence.*
*While the win themes should not be changed but written to flow as part of the answer, case studies
and project examples should purposely evidence relevance for this specific bid.
2. Using a client-first approach
[Pitching to your target audience]
Our tender is to a particular client, and they have identified a need for certain services or technical
solutions. Our written responses should therefore address the end client and not our customer. For
example, it is easy in a bid to write “We will …” and concentrate on ourselves.
This approach, however, will not resonate with the evaluators, who are looking for a solution that
meets their company’s needs. A simple solution to this is to restructure all of the sentences to have
the client mentioned first, for example: “ABC will benefit from …” Putting the client first changes the
emphasis of the bid in a subtle way. It seems relatively easy to do, but to make it consistent requires some effort. It also helps if you address roles or people within the client organization and personalize the tender.
As a check at the end of each answer, section and tender, you can count the number of times you
have mentioned yourselves (Company name, we, delivery partners) against how many times you
have mentioned your client (Name, you, your). The balance should be towards the client, and the
more that balance leans towards the client, the more we address their requirements.
3. Describing the benefits, not features
[Keeping the reader hooked]
Selling why you are their best solution
When we propose a solution, there is a natural desire to point out the features of what we are offering rather than detail the client benefits. While this is similar to the client-first advice, you can still have a written answer that puts the client first and lists only features.
We must address any statement that lists what we will do or outputs from a particular project phase
and challenge each bullet to ask, “so what?” or “what does the client get from that?”.
This approach will feed out the detail to ascertain the client benefits. In many cases, we can demonstrate benefits by reference to case studies or projects that achieved cost savings, delivery timescales, or project outputs directly resulting from our involvement.
Features may be required outputs, but they must pass a “who does what? when? where? and why?” test and meet the “so what?” test.
Addressing the why, in other words, client benefits, the answer becomes more compelling, especially if the evaluation criteria expect more than just compliance.
Author name : Lorna Waldron