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How to win bids and tenders

This article is written by Sarah Amery, a consultant at Questas - provider of training in in selling skills, bids and tenders and key account management.


Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business; however it is often seen as a chore. People don’t know where to start or how to organise their content. As such, they resort to pulling information from other bids, cutting and pasting to their heart’s content. This approach rarely works as you are completely ignoring the client’s unique needs, issues and objectives.

It is also worth noting that a bid is a sales document. What a bid is not, is marketing material and yet you’d be surprised how many bids I see which still start with standard company information, including numbers of offices, locations and company history. In order to be an effective sales document it is essential that you shift the focus away from your company and instead focus on the client’s needs, explaining how your solution meets these needs and the benefits of your approach. But how do you do this? At Questas we have a simple, yet effective model to guide you through this process, regardless of the size of the bid, be it a letter or a complex multi-million pound contract.

The Questas Bid Model

The Questas bid model – By following this simple model you can ensure your bids are client focussed, tailored to the client’s unique challenges, needs and objectives and most importantly stand out from your competitors as the clear winner.

Q... is for question

The absolute foundation of any winning bid is a thorough understanding of the opportunity and how this affects all the key stakeholders, from the CEO through to the end users.

U... is for understand

The next step in your bid journey is to collate all of the information gleaned from the questioning phase and truly understand what this means, not only from the clients perspective but also looking at the competitive landscape.

E... is for evidence

Often overlooked is the power of evidence. Our job is to allay the potential reader's fears and persuade them to choose us.

Evidence can take many forms, such as case studies, client quotes, statistics, awards and most importantly CVs.

S... is for solution

Next, get the team together and, taking everything you have gathered so far, including the client’s hot buttons, brainstorm all the potential solutions you can offer.

T... is for themes

A good bid tells a story. This story needs to flow and the key foundations to this flow are win themes.  

A... is for answer

Answer planning, also known as storyboarding, is an effective method of structuring your content. You would not believe how many times I hear people cry, ‘I don’t have time to plan’, and yet when you plan what you are going to write you save time.  

S... is for submit

Often a part which is overlooked is the final production stages of a bid. Typically you should allow 20% of the total time you have for proof reading, production and sign-off. Remember how much first impressions count.

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Last updated: 01 Jun 2016

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