Bids and tenders are often essential to get a client, particularly in large projects Yet many are quite simply not up to the job, let alone actually compelling.
The programme has a simple objective: to improve participants’ bid and proposal production.
This programme is made up of two interrelated modules. Clients are advised to book participants onto them in the following sequence though, of course, each module can be taken separately.
IV: Winning bids and tenders
V: Requirements definition
Each module is 2 days separated by at least two weeks (2×7 hours, with ‘homework’ between the days).
This module addresses a fundamental process in getting clients. Many businesses believe they have to write bids or proposals in order to gain work. We address the circumstances both in which bids/proposals are necessary as well as those when they are actually unhelpful or premature. The module covers the work needed to create a successful bid, and the structure of the document itself. It covers how to respond to invitations to tender. We also tackle the issue of whether, in fact, the client should pay for the content of the bid.
A theme of the module is the fear that businesses often have that, if they don’t do what the prospect asks, they’ll lose the work. This is often entirely unjustified, and the prospect is only too pleased to discover that the seller has a professional approach to this stage of the business relationship.
Delegates should bring a copy of a recent unsuccessful bid, and/or have in mind a current opportunity where a bid seems appropriate.
What is a bid, what is its purpose?
We assume a bid is used in a situation where there is a degree of uniqueness about what the buyer needs (it may be 100% unique if it is a bespoke IT application). If the buyer can buy it off the shelf without adaptation then a catalogue and order form are all that is needed.
Many bids confuse two conflicting objectives: (a) persuading the prospect to employ the seller; (b) explaining what the seller is going to do for the buyer. The former is essentially a selling document aimed at a prospect, the latter should be a description of product or services aimed at a client—in other words it is applicable only once the prospect has become a client.
Alternatives to bids and proposals
Do you always need to send a proposal? When is a simpler, more informal document advantageous/all that is necessary? How to create situations in which a simple solution is all that is needed. Alternative options to proposals.
Proposals as part of the selling process
Role of the proposal in the wider process. Content of proposals. Timing of proposals.
What not to put in a proposal
Many businesses make the error of including a description of what they will do in the bid. Yet, the prospect at this stage isn’t a client and it is hugely unlikely that the seller has been granted enough time and opportunity to establish what the client actually needs. The likelihood therefore is that this description is simply wrong. How to avoid this situation. How to convince the buyer that it is not in their interest to close down the options too soon.
How to present the bid
This section considers whether it is sufficient to drop the bid in the post (sometimes it is). It briefly covers how to present it in a meeting.
The place for an adequately detailed description of buyers’ needs is a separate document, the ‘Requirements definition’. This need not be long, but it should reflect adequate research. How to set this up. Contents of the document. [This subject is amplified in the course Requirements definition.]
Invitations to tender can be treacherous, because the inviter usually controls the structure of the response. Tactics for dealing with ITTs. Criteria for deciding if you’re even going to respond to an ITT.
How to respond to prospects’ questions about cost when you don’t know in detail what you’re going to do for them. Tips on accurate estimation of charges when you do know. How to approach requests for a discount.