In this blog I share my top tip for writing a winning bid – and that is to answer the question……no more and no less.
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it?
Yet, when analysing client bids, I constantly see copy and pasted answers that comprise reams of text from a bid library that somebody wrote in 2012 to “impress” the client using over-intellectual language in the maximum number of words!
So, how DO you maximise your score for each question?
It’s simple. Answer what you’ve been asked in line with the specification and the scoring model. That’s it.
Procurement professionals have a certain number of marks to allocate to each question when scoring your tender. If your answer covers these critical elements, you get the marks. If it doesn’t, you don’t. Putting in a load of additional material that has not been asked for only serves to annoy the evaluator.
How to break down and answer any tender question!
I’ve created a tried and tested technique to keep me on track. It ensures I only provide information that is going to score maximum points. Here are the steps that I follow for nearly all tender questions:
- If you are using a portal, copy and paste the questions into Microsoft Word and use this as a working document. Portals are unwieldy and do not allow you to craft your answer effectively. Wait until you’ve got your final response to each question before you paste it back into the portal.
- Look for the evaluation section in the tender documents. In some tenders, you will find details of how they will score each individual question. If this is the case, copy and paste this information (using a different colour) into your working document below the question so it’s easy to cross check that you’ve covered everything.
- Next go to the specification and find the parts that are relevant to the question. Copy and paste this into your working document below the scoring criteria using a third colour. Again, this will be used for cross referencing against your final answer.
- Now go back to the question and highlight each element of it – here’s an example:
“Provide a brief description of your company’s core competencies and detail how you differentiate yourself in the market.”
- Use the highlighted wording from the question to create headings to guide your answer. In this case I might use the following headings:
- Description of core competencies.
- How we are different.
- The next stage is to draft your answer under each heading. In the first part, you will give an overview of the core competencies of your business (e.g. the services you provide, sectors you cover and geographies you can supply). The second part is about explaining how you are different (i.e. what you do differently and what makes you better than your competitors in the market). Make sure what you write is aligned to with the specification and the scoring criteria. Don’t worry about word counts/character counts in your first draft – just get the information down in full. You can always edit this later to bring it down into the requisite word/character count. It is fine to leave the headings in if you want to – this shows the evaluator that you have read and responded fully to the question, so does no harm. Alternatively, you can remove the headings now that they have served their purpose – your choice!
- Now, wherever possible, add in relevant evidence (you’ll find how to do this in a separate blog: https://www.bruntonbidwriting.co.uk/proof-and-evidence/).
- Next, cross reference your answer with every single element of the specification and scoring criteria. Ensure that you have covered everything required by the client. Delete anything that doesn’t contribute to this in your answer and then proof read to check its clear.
- Finally, paste your approved answer into the relevant field in the portal (not forgetting to scroll down to the bottom of your answer to make sure it has all fitted into any word or character restriction – portals will cut off anything that is too long). I usually keep my working document so that I can refer back to the question, evaluation criteria, specification and answer in the future.
That’s it. No more, no less.
I guarantee that if you follow these simple steps your answers will be revolutionised, and your scores will improve exponentially.