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Tips for writing quality bid responses

Category: Bid Writing

Doing as the client asks i.e., following instructions, is half the battle in getting through to the next stage. Taking time at the beginning of any tender process to understand what the tenderer wants to be returned to them is time well spent. We've outlined a few tips and suggestions below to help you get there:

1. Read the invitation to tender documentation

There's usually a document called 'Instructions to participants', giving you all sorts of information about how the client wants your final response returned to them. Please don't ignore it, as it's the key to you providing a compliant bid.

2. Create a storyboard for each question

A storyboard allows you to dissect and understand the detail of the client's requirements, enlist subject matter expertise from within your organisation, and gather the content and evidence required to support your answer.

3. Enlist the support of subject matter experts

Responding to tenders isn't a one-person job, no matter whether you're the best bid writer in the world or not. Producing compelling and balanced responses requires combined brainpower, even if it's just to get a second opinion at the review stage.

4. Respond to the question being asked

ITTs are about the client's requirements, so keep your response relevant to what the client wants to know about how you can help them achieve their goals; this isn't a showcase for your portfolio.

5. Use the ITT documents to help structure your response

Specification documents usually give you clues on what the client wants, and a well-written quality or technical questionnaire should link back to the specification document. 

6. Stick to the word count and only provide attachments if requested

If the client has asked for a maximum of 500 words, then don't write any more; otherwise, they could choose to ignore everything you've written beyond the limit. Same goes for attachments. If the client specifies that they should only be provided if asked for, then don't try and shoehorn another 500 words onto an infographic or diagram as at best, you're wasting your time and the client's; and at worst, you could be disqualified for not following specific instructions.

7. Make it easy for the evaluator to find the detail in your answers

This tip follows on from number seven. The simpler you make it for evaluators to understand your responses, the easier it will be for you to pick up marks. 

  • Signpost your response - use appropriate paragraph headings based on the different parts of the question; use bullet points and diagrams to make it easy to navigate; and, clearly highlight appendix references.
  • Plain English - don't baffle the evaluator with terminology, acronyms and abbreviations that are only relevant to your organisation or industry. We follow a rule to write all words in full the first time they are mentioned and then shorten them in subsequent references. 
  • Remember that evaluators are reviewing many responses - try to avoid pointing them to the information given in other answers as they may not have access to your whole submission. Even if they do, they may not be inclined to hunt for it and are under absolutely no obligation to do so.

8. Submit on time

Know what you're submitting, and who to, right from the start. If you've to submit via a portal, familiarise yourself with adding text and uploading attachments well before the deadline. If you've to deliver hard copies of your document allow plenty of time for delivery to the client's office.

If you need help with navigating your way around ITT documents, get in touch - we do it every day!


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Bid Management & Business Proposal Specialist - available to enhance your team on a short or long term contract basis

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