Writing Winning Tenders with Win Themes

Jan 14, 2021Bid Writing, SME Champions, Tender Writing

Win themes maximise your chances of winning tenders. The second most important question you can ask is, ‘How are we going to win this?’ (The most important question is, ‘Should we bid this?’ and getting that one right is crucial). Taking time out before you start writing the bid to think about everything you know about your company and what you do, the client, and the contract need will help you find the clarity to answer that second most important question confidently and clearly.

What Are Win Themes?

Sometimes called Proposal Strategy Statements, a win theme is a statement that describes your tactics for winning the bid in a way that is clear and simple to understand. A win theme could:

  • Describe the benefits of your product or service
  • Mitigate a known weakness
  • Demonstrate your strength against the competition

Some of these themes will be constant, used on every bid, but others will be needed to address client needs or concerns, or to directly address how you are superior to the incumbent or others who you believe might be bidding.

Win themes should be developed early; before you start writing the responses to any questions.

Developing Win Themes

The first place to look for potential win themes are the tender documents. You should do a close reading of the tender documents and use them to put together a compliance and responsiveness matrix; that’s a table that makes sure that you are able to meet all the criteria and requirements for the bid and how you can go further to address the client’s unwritten needs – for more information see out video below.

Other techniques that you can use to gather ideas for win themes include:

  • SWOT Analysis of the opportunity to help you determine where your company excels, where you will need to mitigate concerns, and what opportunities you have to innovate and add value. (Download our free SWOT Template here).
  • Competitor Analysis to determine where you outperform the incumbent or likely competition, and where they outshine you so you can address that. This doesn’t mean that you should ‘name and shame’ the competition. What you’re trying to do is to think of any objections that the evaluator might have to choosing your company and handling them, so they don’t become an issue.

Using Win Theme

Once you have developed your win themes, you need to ensure that they get used in the right place in your bid responses. One way of doing this is to expand on your compliance and responsiveness matrix, and to look at each question in turn and tie it into one or more win themes.

When you come to write the questions, the win themes can be used to pull the content together around a particular subject. If you’re using win themes in more than one question, then it’s useful to repeat the same phrase; repetition helps things to stick in the evaluator’s memory.

If your tender allows you to format the responses, then you can highlight win themes by using them as headings or highlighting the phrase in bold or in colour so it pops out. You might want to consider using win themes to create a chart or graphic that can be used as well, for example a flow chart to highlight your process, or using the logo of an organisation that you are a member of such as the CITB’s  Supply Chain Sustainability School or Social Value UK.

A Roadmap to Success

Win themes allow you to clearly explain to the client what it is about your company and your product or service that makes you a great fit for that particular contract. In order to give them that information, you need to be very clear about what makes you special, and that’s the kind of insight that we deliver with our Deep Dive process.

The Bid for Success Deep Dive works through a series of talking points, helping us to determine how bid ready you are, and what your next steps are to meet your goals. The enhanced version works through win themes, giving you a finished playbook of pre-written content to help you win more tenders. If you’d like to learn more about how we work, book a call with our development team today.

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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