If you think that only one person will read your bid then you could be missing a trick! The complexities of procurement teams when coupled with your pre-bid activities may mean that your work is wasted unless you take action to connect with a much wider audience.
Last week, I met a new client and after an interesting discussion about public sector tendering we explored the importance of connecting at all levels with the procurement team and the impact this can have on the success or otherwise of your bid.
Now this may sound a little strange but when you think about it…
you’re not bidding into a single entity, company or organisation but to the people within it that are tasked with a variety of responsibilities in the bid process
These people are persuaded by their individual sensitivities and preferences and yes, prejudices, and will subliminally apply these influences in their assessment of your bid. If you miss an opportunity to make a positive impact it could adversely affect the way in which your response is viewed.
The Procurement Manager will take overall responsibility for managing the process and ensuring compliance with all the legal requirements both internally as assessors, and externally in ensuring that you comply with the rules and regulations of the bid process. He or she may use a team of staff to assess individual sections of the tender or may send it to department heads for assessment by them or their staff on the more technical issues.
Now, this is starting to get even more remote from the key personnel your business development managers may have connected with prior to the issue of tender documents, so how do you make sure you connect quickly and easily with everyone involved and with maximum impact?
It’s first worth considering the stage you are at in the process and at pre-qualification (PQQ) stage the Procurement Manager may receive any number of responses from 10 to 30 to 50 to 100 or more! This will be significantly reduced in the next stage and you must be included if you want to win.
The immediate aim of the Procurement Manager will be to reduce the initial number of respondants to a more manageable number whilst ensuring that the most appropriate candidates remain in the running. So, it is vital that you make that immediate connection, are fully complaint in every way, and clearly demonstrate that you can provide the goods or services demanded by the contract if you want to be selected to join in the main bidding stage.
First impressions count, so make sure that your submission stands out (for the right reasons!) from the moment that it is removed from the envelope or viewed online.
More and more submissions are now made online but they can often be submitted in PDF format so you have the same opportunity as with a printed version of presenting a well-constructed document that is visually enticing and well laid out to draw your assessors in.
Use visually relevant and enticing covers with all the required information and references for that first and vital impact- this sets the scene for how you will be perceived with subliminal undertones of your likely approach to delivering a success contract.
Make it easy for assessors to find information by using dividers or colour coded section headings to divide the document into the sections it was received in- these can also be used to promote key messages with relevant text or images.
Respond in the order the bid was issued – do not be tempted to put your own style on this as assessors will struggle to find information and may give up with disastrous consequences.
Always…always answer the question! Use the same order it was asked in to make it easier for assessors to check off their list and ensure all your responses are relevant to what they’ve asked.
Keep answers short (‘ish) if there is no word count restriction whilst making sure you include all information- this will include your key messages and reasons why your client should use you…remember, this is still a sales process so you need to make it easy for them to buy your goods or services.
Use bullets, highlights, differing text styles to emphasis key messages, particularly when they relate to your clients objectives and aspirations so they know you understand them.
Now, we haven’t mentioned an important group of people or perhaps an individual within your client’s team. And that is the Company Board or CEO who will be tasked with approving the final decision.
He, she or they will be reliant on the scoring of the wider procurement team and the final report from the Procurement Manager but will want to read something that gets them interested…this is your executive summary and it really needs to be your Powerful Introduction so it grabs their attention from the outset and makes an immediate connection with what they are trying to achieve in their wider ambitions for their company.
A Powerful Introduction does more than just summarise the content of your submission. It should be persuasive and state all the reasons why they should choose you instead of your rivals- it must contain valuable information that uses a SMART (specific, measurable, accurate, relevant and timely) approach and answers that one vital question that all clients want answering…
What’s in it for me?
By appealing to the specific and particular interests of all the individuals assessing your bid submission and making it easy to find information that is relevant to them you will connect with your audience at all levels and in a way that makes you stand out and increase your chances of winning that contract.