Five quick wins to improve construction bids

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In the first of a series of articles for Construction Management, bidding and tender expert David Gray shares five top tips to improve your bids to clients.
1. Start with strategy

Before any bid writing is done, schedule a bid kick-off workshop with the key stakeholders involved in the tender process. Use the workshop to discuss and agree your win strategy. What are your USPs? What differentiates you from the competition? What are the client’s hot buttons? What win themes can you weave through your bid that align with these? Think of this strategy as the foundations of a great bid.

2. Plan before you write

You wouldn’t start building a house without any plans and nor should you start writing a bid without them. Build storyboards or content plans to provide a disciplined structure to each written element of the bid, ensuring you respond to the client’s requirements in full. This will also make the bid writing much easier, as you have a solid framework to write under, rather than starting with a blank page.

3. Tailor the bid to your client

“If you can replace the client’s name in the bid with any other client name and it still makes sense, there is too much ‘boilerplate’ text and not enough client-focused content.”

This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many bidders still rely on generic text in their bids. To win more bids, make sure your proposal aligns with your client’s unique and specific requirements. Research their aims, objectives, corporate culture and try to align yourself with them as the perfect delivery partner. If you can replace their name in the bid with any other client name and it still makes sense, there is too much ‘boilerplate’ text and not enough client-focused content.

4. Focus not on what you do, but on the value you deliver

A common mistake in bidding is to assume the buyer will want to read about how wonderful your company is and how you’re the best at what you do. You will achieve more success by demonstrating your understanding of their specific needs and requirements, and the value your solution will bring to them. Your expertise should be demonstrated through this understanding, backed up by evidence of where you have delivered similar projects successfully (see point 5).

5. Evidence, evidence, evidence

Make sure you provide evidence for any claims you make in your bid – this exponentially improves your credibility and builds trust with the buyer. If your solution is the best in the market, prove it by referencing previous contracts you have delivered and the value this added to the client. Did you save them money? Time? If so, state how much. What ROI can you evidence on previous projects? Details like this will increase your bid scoring and win probability. Anyone can say they are the best at what they do, but how many can back it up with quantifiable evidence?

David Gray is managing director of AM Bid, one of the UK’s leading bid specialists and creator of Ultimate Tender Coach, an online bid programme designed to help SMEs win more public contracts.

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