This Guest paper was submitted for publication 4/27/13 and is copyright to David Harrison, © 2013.
This paper is an update of a paper originally published in 2008.
Published here December 2013.

PQQ = PreQualification
ITT = Invitation To
RFP = Request For

PART 2 | Introduction | Strategies and Tactics | Evidence
Content and Presentation | Post-tender Interviews | Summary

Content and Presentation

Mistake #20 - Demonstrating how your solutions will add value and reduce risk?

Customers are interested in how you will add value and reduce risk relative to the price. It is therefore a mistake if the things that are most interesting and beneficial to them are buried in your PQQs, tenders and proposals making it difficult for the customer's evaluators to find them and award marks. The purpose of a pre-qualification process is to reduce a long list of interested applicants down to a short list of suitably qualified bidders by eliminating those who present the highest risks of not achieving the project objectives. Therefore the emphasis is on risk reduction and your content needs to reflect this.

However, when it comes to the next stage, the contract is normally awarded to the bidder who can demonstrate the greatest value for the customer. So think about where your solutions create value. Don't hide this content in amongst lots of detail - make it stand out. Make it easy for the evaluators to understand the value added and award top marks. If necessary spell it out and quantify the value created for the customer.

A poorly presented submission will lose you marks but the quality of the content of the material used in your submission is what picks up marks. So get this right!

Mistake #21 - Features and benefits

It is a mistake to only write about the features of your services and solutions. They are important for the customer to understand what you are going to deliver but they are more interesting, meaningful and powerful if they are linked to benefits and outcomes that are highly relevant to the customer. This is critically important when writing bids and proposals because evaluators will award higher marks for benefits and outcomes rather than features and inputs.

One area where I find this more apparent is in case studies. Most case studies which I have read are boring because they just contain an unimaginative photograph, some facts about value, start and finish dates, names of customers and their advisors and a list of services provided. There is no attempt to capture the attention of the reader with a description of what constraints and risks were managed. Nor do they explain how creative solutions were found to resolve problems and more importantly how benefits and value were delivered for the customer. There is also no attempt to articulate this valuable information in the form of customer testimonials that are very persuasive.

Mistake #22 - Poorly written and poorly presented documents

Some submissions are an absolute joy to read and are easy to assess as the information is set out so clearly and is instantly accessible. Others, however, are a nightmare and my heart sinks when I see them because I know that they are going to take four or five times longer to read and assess than the best. When you are an evaluator and you have only 3 to 4 days to go through over 100 pre-qualification submissions then it can be irritating to say the least when applicants make it tough for you. Whilst I try to be totally professional and assess each submission on its merits, I am sure that at a subconscious level I am possibly a fraction harder on the poorly presented submissions.

It is not my intention to go into detail in this report about how to improve the quality of your bid writing, as there is more to this subject than most people realize. All I will say is that it does make a difference and I would urge you to get some training and help if you need it. Alternatively, ask someone to edit what you have written.

Be sure to clearly state the reasons why the customer should select you! Some bidders get so close to the process of answering the questions and providing information requested that they forget that they are trying to persuade the customer to choose them in preference to their competitors. As a consequence, their presentations come across as very "stuffy" and formal and do not press the "emotional buy buttons" that we all have when choosing which service or product to buy.

Most people make decisions using their emotions first and then try to justify these by finding the logic to back it up. So, if you only rely on appealing to a logical analysis of your bid then you may not position yourself at the front of the queue! There is a real skill in the subtle art of persuasion using both written and spoken words and one that the most successful bidders have cracked. Happily, you too can develop these skills.

For example, the way you present your bid documents says a lot about your organization and can certainly affect the customer's perception about your professionalism and enthusiasm for winning the contract. Elite Bidders put a lot of effort into creating interesting and attractive documents that really stand out. This takes experience, creativity, time and a little bit of investment, but it is worth it. Seeing what they produce is a real eye opener.

Evidence  Evidence

Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page