Help Writing a Bid – Top Tips & Advice

28th May 2020

Need Help Writing a Bid?

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 11:06 am

Ever look at a tender and wonder how to respond? All these buzzwords and fields to fill feel overwhelming? You’re in the right place. This blog will explore the different techniques which will help writing a bid. It will enable you to see past the mystifying words, Russian doll questions and pages of documentation. Sit tight while we guide you through our advice to help writing a bid.

The number one mechanism that puts off business leaders and development executives from getting help with bidding for a contract – is the sheer prices that many consultants charge for their expertise and support. We all have received that email from some portal, inviting you to attend ‘Bid Writing Masterclasses’ in a swanky conference suite, usually a million miles away for around £100 per ticket per day.

There was nearly £171 Billion spent within the UK’s public procurement sector in 2018 alone.

We’ve prepared some tips for you if you’re stuck writing a bid. These will get you out of a rut and will recalibrate your tender brain in order to see the best possible result:

  1. Break it down.

Literally everything. Break it down. Make lists as you review the tender documentation – which sections/documents need completing? What tasks need to be done before beginning the responses? Are there any policies that need attaching? Does the response need to be designed? Who in your team needs to be contacted? Which tasks can you delegate, and to whom?

Secondly, break down those all-important quality questions. Pick out each element of the question if it’s wordy. If it’s not, create some subheadings under the theme the question is asking. Subheadings are everyone’s best friend – in the procurement world anyway. Subheadings not only make evaluators’ lives easier; they could make your life easier when you need help writing a bid.

The benefits of subheadings are numerous. Here are a few:

  • Content is signposted to evaluators;
  • They easily break up blocks of text;
  • They ensure you cover all aspects of the question;
  • Additional space is identified – gaps will be plain to see;
  • There is less opportunity for waffle – they keep you more focused.

Next time you’re in a rut and questioning whether you need help writing a bid, simplify and break things down into more manageable chunks.

  1. Think evidence.

When you’re writing your responses, think about how you can demonstrate your capabilities. You can’t just say “we will provide a high-quality service”. How will you do it? Where have you done it before? Is there a company policy you can attach that will hold you accountable to this approach? Previous quality audit results that show how good your service is? Don’t just state, substantiate. This will give your content more direction and make it appealing to a buyer.

  1. Brainstorm

If you’re having trouble with a particular question, why not get ideas from your wider team? Just because the bid writing has been delegated to you, doesn’t mean others can’t feed in. There may be key aspects of the business that you don’t have specialist knowledge of – but buyers love specificity. Knuckle down and get information from other members of your team to enhance your responses.

Similarly, don’t feel as though you have to tackle the responses in a set way or order. Whatever is easiest – plan them all first, or plan one and write it and so on. Many people get stuck and find themselves wanting help writing a bid because unknowingly, they feel constrained and overwhelmed when looking at all the questions. By stepping out of the usual order, you may feel more inspired.

We understand that you may not have the time or energy to write your bids and that these tips might not work for you. That’s why Hudson Succeed has a range of services you can choose from when you need help writing a bid. We love to help businesses see success in their tendering efforts, which is why we offer 5 services to meet any and all bid writing needs: for help writing a bid, look no further.

Bid writing support

Our Hudson Succeed services allow our consultants to work with you on a more personal level to ensure a helping hand is always there when needed. Currently, procurement is far from being easy. Our mission is to de-complicate the sector so it remains simple for all buyers and suppliers across the country.

Our firm is different from other consultancies, as we offer free impartial advice on your procurement strategy. Subsequent to our advice, you can then decide what kind of support you need. Whether this be our Tender Readiness Assessment? Tender Writing Service? and/or Guide and Reviews? etc.

All services on offer are accustomed to your needs, meaning we do not overcharge or maintain bulk rates. We offer more than affordable consultancy rates that remain specific to your requirements and will only enhance your chances of winning.

This is quoted on a tender by tender basis, as per our set day rate. Our bid consultants will assess the size and work involved in the tender and you will pay for the days needed to complete the responses. The expert team will handle all aspects of preparing the tender response. We’ll let you know what we need from you in order to maximise the content. Then, let us do the rest. We’ll sort out the clarifications and the submission too, so you don’t have to worry about a thing.

If you don’t need help writing a bid, Tender Mentor could be the service for you. A member of our team will review a tender you’ve already written and provide actionable comments to improve the quality of your responses. Contact us and we’ll provide a quote for you. We operate on a fixed day rate, so quotes are created based on the amount of work involved.

We utilise a standardised and easy to follow template for our comments. If you have follow-up questions about any comment we have left, we welcome these as we want your response to be as perfect as it can be. You’ll have our comments at least 4 days before the submission deadline, just to be on the safe side. And, of course, to give you time to make those all-important changes.

A great option for newer businesses or for those who have never tendered before. This is a 4-week programme, during which the Succeed team will create a bank of corporate literature for you. We will contact you to ascertain the scope of your existing literature and then fill in the gaps.

The content we create for our clients typically includes:

  • 8 company policies;
  • 6 CVs for key personnel;
  • 4 case studies for past contracts you’ve delivered (if appropriate);
  • An organisation chart.

These documents will be designed by our in-house creative team with your branding. If you don’t yet have any, the team will work to create a template with you.

As part of this package, you also receive a subscription to one of our 11 Hudson Discover tender tracking portals – our innovative timesaving tools. And there’s more – the Succeed team will either review two bids or write one for you.

This service is for businesses who are regularly tendering for work but without success. We’ll send you a checklist to assess your needs and get started. The Tender Improvement programme covers:

  • Reviewing your previous responses;
  • Identifying areas for improvement;
  • Rewriting content as identified, such as methodologies, policies and processes.

Then, we will either review your next two bids or write one for you.

Tender VLE 

In 2018, we launched Tender VLEa highly innovative virtual learning environment (VLE). The platform offers free masterclass videos across a diverse range of tendering topics. This includes;

  • Support and guidance around tender readiness;
  • Bid management;
  • Time management;
  • Case studies;
  • Structuring the layout;
  • and pretty much every procurement practice you can think of.

This information is broken into various knowledge strands so that people with the most limited knowledge and those with advanced knowledge can receive the best help and guidance to succeed. The best part of all this – is that it comes at no cost to the learner/viewer. All videos are made publically available on our VLE site and YouTube channel, allowing unlimited access to ALL.

Tender Bank 

Our upcoming Tender Bank system, launching within the next year, will also provide customers with a one-stop-shop for all of their tender needs. The system will include templates, pre-established responses that are tailored to your sector and varying policies.

Our team

We write to win. Meet our team.

When it comes to tendering for contracts, our Hudson Succeed team are well versed, holding in excess of 20 years’ experience in sourcing, writing and managing tender projects across multiple different sectors.

Whilst writing bids for contracts is our Succeed team’s bread and butter, we understand that for many of you, this is not the case. With this being said, we’re sitting down with our Hudson Succeed team to extract their top tips for writing a bid for a contract and to help you tackle those all-important tender submissions.

Our team has an 87% success rate and will support you throughout the tendering process, however you choose to progress.

This team has a wealth of skills and experience that, when pooled, has the capability to produce outstanding results for your business. We are confident that our expert team can provide an excellent service with which you will be satisfied.

Daniel Hall – Head of Bid Management

“Plan effectively. Copy and paste parts of the specification that applies to the section you are developing and plan your response in line with this. This enables you to structure your responses when writing a bid for a contract and ensure that you accurately reflect what the buyer is asking for.

For example, let’s say a question is asking you for your approach to quality management, including how you monitor and improve your performance and act upon client feedback. Break the response down into these headings and go to the specification. Look for information regarding these points, as for example, the buyer may state you are to hold a 98% positive feedback rating throughout. If you fail to state this in your response and state you will aim for 90%, then you will look somewhat careless and will look like you have jumped into writing the response head first.”

“Another top tip for writing a bid for a contract is to use simple, clear, precise language. Don’t bury what you really want to say in a pile of interesting but superfluous information. Make sure your submission is as easy to read, accessible and engaging as possible for evaluators. You may be an exceptional writer, but make sure there is substance to what you are saying.

Katherine Kane – Bid Writer

“When writing a bid for a contract, make sure you plan out your tender response and give enough time to each tender requirement so that you avoid rushing the submission and risk missing the deadline. This is key for your bid management strategy.

Time is money, and this rings true with tendering. Our approach here at Hudson is to over delegate time. If you think something will take you 5 days, give yourself 7. We all know the feeling, planning to get X, Y and Z done in a day and then A, B and C come out of nowhere and you descend into chaos. The best way to avoid drowning when writing bids for a contract is ensuring that you do not get caught out and to always expect the unexpected.” 

Jonathan Worthy – Bid Writer

“When writing a bid for a contract, take time to read all of the tender documents, thoroughly. By checking each document (even if you don’t think it is relevant) you alleviate the risk of missing a key instruction or a piece of information about the contract that could end up with your proposal being disqualified for failing to meet all of the criteria.

Seeing success when writing a bid for a contract requires planning, attention to detail, research and ultimately, time. It is often overlooked by businesses the time it takes to write bids for a contract, which in turn, leads to rushed proposals.”

Olivia Backhouse – Bid Writer

“Make a list of the key information you need to find (like the contract value, contract length, economic and financial threshold, proposal formatting rules, deadlines etc) and tick each item off as you find it. Once you have found all of the items on your list, you can start to plan your tender, confident with the knowledge that you have all of the information you need to write a compliant, informed bid.”

Alex Holt – Bid Writer

“My top tip when writing a bid for a contract is to do your research. Know the company you are writing a bid for. It is no good blindly submitting a bid without knowing how the company works, their aims and values. A simple way of finding this out is to look on their website and see if any of their policies are on there.

Often times, if this is a council you are writing a response for, this will be easy to find. However, you may be required to dig a little deeper if it is for a smaller organisation.

Ultimately, you want to digest this information and ensure that your responses mirror their company ethos. If their four social value aims are equality, up-skilling disadvantaged individuals, providing access to education and benefitting their local economies, then make sure you are reflecting these values when writing your proposal.

If you showcase that you share these visions with tangible evidence of how you have previously delivered this, or, what measures you will enact to ensure that this is fulfilled, then this will bode very well with the buyer. Keep this realistic, however, it is no good promising the world without the means to deliver this, keep your promises tangible.”

Robyn Crawford – Bid Writer

“Remember your economic financial standing principals. Regardless of how well written your responses are, if you have submitted accounts with a turnover of £600,000 and the documents clearly state this must be £1,000,000, then your excellent work will ultimately count for nothing.

Help Writing a Bid

Myths Surrounding Private and Public Sector Tendering

Knowing how to bid for a tender is more than just understanding the basic tendering process. Understanding procurement as a whole, including the subtle differences of how to bid for a tender in the public and private sectors, is essential to being able to see consistent success.

There are several myths surrounding private and public sector tendering, most of which play a significant part in putting SME businesses off of tendering. Despite what you may have been told, most of the bad things that you will have heard aren’t anything like the reality of tendering.

If you’re interested in finding out how to bid for a tender, then read on to find out why some of the common myths shouldn’t be putting you off investigating the tendering route.

Public Procurement Myths

Myth #1 – “SMEs aren’t wanted in Public Procurement”

This is not true at all and should definitely not be putting you off of tendering. In fact, the government has overhauled the way it buys goods and services, specifically with the aim of helping more SMEs to bid for contracts.

For instance, some of the legislation that has been brought in to make sure procurement is fairer to SMEs includes these rules:

  • It is now a legal requirement for public bodies (i.e. schools, hospitals, local councils) to pay suppliers within 30 days of invoice.
  • Selection Questionnaires are no longer compulsory if the contract value is under the EU threshold (this currently stands for Supplies and Service contracts at £118,133 for Central Government; £181,302 for the wider public sectors and £65,630 for Small Lots).
  • Large contracts are to be split into smaller Lots to create more opportunities for smaller businesses (this often takes the form of Frameworks or Dynamic Purchasing Systems).

Myth #2 – “The company able to offer the cheapest price will always win”

I can easily imagine that the first time somebody looks at what is involved in how to bid for a tender they could easily make the mistake of assuming that price is the most important factor, and that larger business will always be able to undercut the market and win.

This may have been true once upon a time, but these days all tenders in public procurement are evaluated using the MEAT method (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) which means that the quality of the technical response is weighted against the pricing to give an overall score. For a full explanation of what this means and how it works, check out this video on our free-to-use learning resource, Tender VLE.

Something else that is incredibly important to buyers in public procurement, is Social Value. If your company is small, but you can demonstrate that you make an impact within your local communities (and that you will be able to do the same for the communities associated with the contract), this will go a long way.

In fact, 85% of public sector organisations have confirmed that they consider the social value to have a high or medium impact on their procurement strategies. So, if you are thinking about learning more about how to bid for a tender, make sure you do your research into ways you can create social value as an SME.

Myth #3 – “The same suppliers win the contracts again and again”

Again, this is just no longer true. While it is true that the incumbent provider (i.e. the company currently holding the contract when it goes out to re-tender) has an advantage in knowing the demands of the contract, if another supplier’s tender scores are better over quality and price, then they will win it fairly.

Private Procurement

Myth #1 – “There are no rules or governing principles for the private tender process”

It might seem that way compared to public procurement, but luckily this isn’t actually the case! Although considerably less stringent than public procurement (which is governed by strict rules and regulations) there are still important legal principles which apply to private procurement, especially when turning over a specific amount.

Myth #2 – “You have to be on the inside to get access to private sector opportunities”

It’s easy to understand why people might think this is the case, as private opportunities aren’t as easy to find as public ones. Private opportunities are a little more hidden away, but luckily our talented team at Hudson Discover are skilled at finding tender opportunities from even the private sector and putting them up on 1 of our 10 sector-specific portals for our clients to find with ease.

If you want to try looking for yourself, then it’s worth checking the websites of private companies, who often list tendering opportunities, or may provide information about where you can find them.

Myth #3 – “Private sector tenders don’t use structured tender processes”

This is not strictly true. Just like public procurement, private tenders can use basic ITT formats, RFPs, RFTs or similar. The big difference is even if the contract is worth more than the EU threshold, you are not lawfully required to fill out a Supplier Questionnaire/Pre-Qualification Questionnaire or an ESPD (European Single Procurement Document).  You may be asked to fill out a simplified form concerning your basic company information, but it is highly unlikely to be as detailed as the requirements for public procurement.

So, if you are concerned about how to bid for a tender in the private sector, then don’t be. At best, it should be a simpler process than tendering in the public sector, and at worst it may be a little less structured.

Further support

Do you have more questions about our services? Why not call the Hudson helpline? Our bid consultants can provide you with bespoke tendering advice and respond to any queries if you need help writing a bid.

Alternatively, do you need help finding a bid? Our Tender Improvement and Tender Ready packages include a subscription to your sector-specific Hudson Discover tender tracking portal. There are 11 to choose from, so you can be assured we can meet your needs. Our tender tracking portals are incredible timesaving tools. You will receive daily bulletins of all relevant contract opportunities published each day and easily filterable browsing when you log into the portal. If you are already a portal customer, you will receive the service at a discounted rate.

Do away with stressful bid submissions. To find out more about help writing a bid or about any of our tender support services, get in touch with the Succeed team today.

Let’s get you some of that £171 Billion up for grabs! Don’t just use anybody – use the right body! Use Hudson Succeed.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

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