Win Themes That Win Tenders

Dec 2, 2021Bid Management, Bid Training, Bid Writing, SME Champions, Tender Process

Win Themes are a vital part of the bid process and are drawn from the Win Strategy. If the Win Strategy is the bones of a bid, the Win Themes are the muscles; they do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to pulling a proposal together. A clear Win Strategy and well thought out Win Themes can take a bid from ‘meh’ to marvellous very quickly. Here’s how to make the most of them.

Strategy First

Your Win Strategy is quite simply the way that you are going to persuade the client to choose you rather than one of your competitors. It should be pulled together using all the tender documents, your knowledge of the client, any intelligence you have about possible competitors, and a solid understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses.

Your Win Strategy is the story of how you can deliver the benefits that the client needs from your product or service and is backed up with the necessary proof whether that be certifications, specifications, or case studies. It shouldn’t be focused on you, though – your Win Strategy, like your bid responses, should focus on the client and how you are going to deliver what they need.

Win Themes

Once you have pulled together a strategy, you will need to pull out three or four of the key ideas to develop into Win Themes. The best Win Themes are those that can be used throughout the bid rather than a one-shot deal. For example, if you are tendering to a local authority and your company has an office within their area then the fact that you are a local firm makes a great win theme. As a local firm you will bring local knowledge, your supply chain are more likely to be within the area benefitting the circular economy, you will have less environmental impact due to less travel, and any staff you hire for the contract will likely live in that area too so any training improves prospects for residents.

In advertising they talk about the Rule of 7; a prospect needs to hear about your service seven times before they buy. In bids we repeat Win Themes, including using the same phrasing, formatting, or graphics, to make sure that this key message makes it onto the evaluator’s radar.

What Makes a Good Win Theme?

The most effective Win Themes are the ones that resonate most with what your client is looking for. If there is an emphasis on safety in the tender documents, then a win theme that addresses that will be more persuasive to that client than one about cost savings or Net Zero. Some examples of good Win Themes include:

  • Waste Management
  • How you can ‘bespoke’ your product or service
  • Cost efficiencies
  • Reliability
  • Value (which differs from price)
  • Reputation and Trust

To identify what your client’s priorities are, read the tender documents carefully and highlight any specific concerns or requirements. You should also use your general knowledge of the client from the capture phase, and what their main concerns are; with local authorities, this can be as simple as visiting their website and searching it for ‘priorities’ while other organisations may take a little more sleuthing to really understand.

Win ThemesWin themes also need to reflect your organisation and should stress your strengths or mitigate your weaknesses; for example, you may be partnering with another organisation to deliver a ‘one stop’ service for the client.

Once you’ve developed a list of Win Themes, start mapping them to the questions that you are being asked in the tender. If you can only use it once, it’s not a win theme it’s just part of the response. If it can be used in multiple questions, then it’s a bona fide win theme. If you are writing an Executive Summary for this proposal, introduce your client to your win themes in that to really set the scene.

Need Help?

Pulling together a winning tender takes time and expertise, particularly if you’re up against a company that has its own bid team or is hiring in bid specialists. If you’re finding that you are consistently scoring less than your competitors, maybe it’s time to get a review and find out where those points can be clawed back? While we’ll happily manage your bids end to end for you, we also offer consultancy services where we an assist with bid improvements including helping you come up with some really effective Win Themes. Get in touch today to find out more.

Adrian Corcoran

Adrian Corcoran is Managing Director and Founder of Bid for Success. Passionate about working with great businesses to win them new work, she and the Bid for Success team are here to help you with your bidding and work winning needs.

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