Winning bids and tenders can make a real difference to small businesses; finding the right bid writer is a key part of this to ensure a successful, winning bid. Public sector organisations are stable, they’re not going to disappear overnight owing you thousands in unpaid invoices, and they pay quickly – they have to settle their invoices within 30 days as part of the Government’s Prompt Payment Policy. But writing a winning tender response takes time and skills that small business owners often don’t have, so they look to pass that job onto a bid writing consultancy.
The choice of who you work with to develop your bid and tender strategy is vital. If you are outsourcing the work because you don’t have the expertise or don’t need a bid team member full-time, how do you decide which freelancer or consultancy is the right match for your business?
Like most industries, bid and tender writing has a membership organisation; the Association of Project Management Professionals. The APMP Is an international organisation that’s consolidated into chapters, with the UK being covered by a single one. Members of the APMP get access to a program of best practice and free professional development courses to help keep them at the top of their game, including annual conferences.
APMP also offers certification to bid writers, letting them prove their understanding of the core concepts through the foundation level exam, allowing bid professionals to use the initials CF APMP after their name, or go on to take practitioner exam (CP APMP) and finally the professional exam (CPP APMP). If you see these letters after a bid or tender writers name you can be sure that they are willing to invest both time and money in their professional development. The APMP is a proactive organisation that encourages the best from its members, often using the hashtag #proudtobeAPMP.
The percentage of wins that a writer has been part of is often used as a measure of success. As measures go, it’s not necessarily a bad one but there are some things about winning bids that you need to understand before falling to the sway of impressive numbers.
Bids and tenders are generally evaluated so that the procuring organisation gets the ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’ or MEAT. While some bids are evaluated 100% on price, in others, there is a mix between price and quality. The quality submission is the part that bid writers get involved with – it’s answering the questions about how your company will deliver the solution including what added value you can bring in terms of service and social value. The balance between price and quality varies but is often 60/40 or 50/50 – although we are beginning to see more bids with a 40/60 split as organisations look more to value rather than price.
What this means for you is that your bid writer might not be fully responsible for the wins or losses. If the pricing is well done, that might win the bid; if it’s not keen enough, it can lose it. The measure that we use at Bid for Success is % first on quality as we feel that gives the most accurate reflection of the contribution we’ve made to the bid through solution architecture and compelling bid copy.
Experience in your Industry
You’re the expert in what you do, unquestionably; but is part of finding the right bid writer looking for someone with experience in your industry? To be honest, there are arguments to be made on both sides of this. A good bid and tender consultancy will put your expertise front and centre when it comes to storyboarding bid responses. It will be a collaborative process, where the bid professional knows what the evaluator is looking for and asks you the necessary questions to get that information and create a winning response. They know the procurement world, and you know yours; together you’re a great team.
However, there are distinct advantages to hiring a bid writer who has had some experience in working in your industry. They’ll understand what you need in order to win on quality; what memberships or accreditations are required, what the risks you need to mitigate are, and what the evaluators are really asking for. For example, we were recently mentoring a small business through their first tender; they submitted a response that, at first glance, looked really great until we realised they had forgotten to include one of the most important aspects in answering the question. Sometimes you need an impartial pair of eyes to take a fresh look at something to ensure it’s all done, belt and braces. An experienced bid writer will give you that.
It’s one of the reasons we have a diverse team at Bid for Success. Between us, we have experience in writing for construction, hard and soft FM, grounds maintenance, recruitment, technology, social care and more. We also retain a network of associates with further specialities that we can call in when needed.
Flexible Ways of Working
We have found that what SMEs want out of a partnership with a bid and tender consultancy can vary greatly. We have clients who want a fully managed service, where we create their bid pipeline, write all their responses, and submit their bids. We have others who simply want mentoring, a professional eye cast over the finished bid before they submit – and we have all the stages in between. A ‘one size fits all’ service isn’t going to work with SMEs who are working with tight budgets, and who often want the support and training to be able to write their own bids.
When you’re interviewing bid firms, make sure that they are going to give you the service that you need, which might be different from the one they want to sell you!
Customer Service and Fit
Perhaps most importantly, you want to find a bid and tender consultancy that is a good match with your company and its values. There needs to be a relationship of trust, as you are putting your confidence in another professional to help your company meet the growth goals you have set. This is why we start our client relationships with our unique 15-point Deep Dive. We want to get to know you, your company, your goals, and the things that make you unique so that we can be your ‘business best friend’ and give you the right advice as you pursue them. When finding the right bid writer, don’t rush into a decision. Make sure you fully understand who the firm are and what they are offering before you sign a contract.
Finding the Right Bid Writer – Bid for Success
If you’re reading this because you’re looking to hire a bid writer or consultancy, then allow us to introduce ourselves. We’re Bid for Success; we’re passionate about working with SME clients and we offer flexible ways of working from training courses through to a fully managed service. We’re transparent about our pricing and willing to work within your budget to help you get that bid submitted on time.
We’re #proudtobeapmp, and our talented team have a wide range of industry experience. More importantly, though, we know that our success is your success, and we want to work together with the right SME partners to deliver that success for all of us. If you’re in the process of finding the right bid writer, then please give us a call to see if we’re the right fit for you.