How a Big Fat Pen Can Improve Your Bid!


How a Big Fat Pen Can Improve Your Bid!

Have you ever met someone for the first time and perhaps been a little too
enthusiastic or too needy or just a bit nervous and started to waffle and go on and on well beyond the point you know you should have stopped?

Well, you’re not alone and it’s something that is also quite common when writing bids…I often see it and here is an example taken from a bid I worked on some time ago in which the author is asked to say how they will manage the quality of their work:


Controlling the quality of the work output from our internal team and that of the external team is paramount to achieving a successful outcome for each project and the overall framework

. We operate a structured approach for managing and controlling quality to ensure full coordination of the design under our accredited ISO9001 Quality Management system.

Poor design coordination can contribute to unnecessary time variations and design changes and result in increased costs and poor programme performance. Complete and accurate design information is crucial and

as design team leaders we always appoint a Project Director as the main point of contact with overall responsibility for guaranteeing the quality of our services. In respect of this project, Fred Jones will act as Project Director and client liaison.

Whilst there are elements that sound somewhat convincing when you break it down this passage doesn’t actually say much of value. If you write like this you could risk losing your clients attention and if they’ve closed their minds to this passage then they may not hear subsequent messages that are important.

You’ll be glad to hear that it’s fairly easy to correct waffling and get to the point of the question in just a few, simple to follow steps.

The question you’ve been asked is likely to have a logic to its structure because your client has thought about this and wants you to clearly tell them what you will do for them. You can use the question structure to break your response into manageable chunks that relate to the specific issues you’re asked to address.

#1: Extract the key items from the question and use them as section headings under which you can write your response. This will ensure that you are focused on what your client wants to hear and that you are addressing the specific issues in the order that they have asked.

#2: Write normally and edit your response when you’ve finished to roughly how you want it to read. Now, here’s the good bit!

#3: Print a copy of your narrative and take a big fat pen so you can strike through anything that doesn’t answer the question, doesn’t make a positive statement or doesn’t say what you will do and how this will help your client. And here’s what the paragraph from before might look like!

“Controlling the quality of the work output from our internal team and that of the external team is paramount to achieving a successful outcome for each project and the overall framework. We operate a structured approach for managing and controlling quality to ensure full coordination of the design under our accredited ISO9001 Quality Management system. Poor design coordination can contribute to unnecessary time variations and design changes and result in increased costs and poor programme performance. Complete and accurate design information is crucial and as design team leaders we always appoint a Project Director as the main point of contact with overall responsibility for guaranteeing the quality of our services. In respect of this project, Fred Jones will act as your Project Director and client liaison.

You will then have a much reduced narrative that you can polish into the final response. The benefit is that you will get to the point quicker, which will help your client, and you’ll use fewer words, which is important if you are limited to a finite amount.

Action Step

Take a hard copy of an old bid and use a big, fat pen to strike out anything that doesn’t answer the question or is stopping your client understand what you will do for them. Now choose a page and re-write the narrative into something that sounds much better.

This is a self-help approach and, of course you can always ask us for a more professional assessment so you’ll have a guide of how to improve your responses in the future and stand out from your competitors.




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