The rules guiding bidding and winning a contract is the same for almost any condition one finds oneself. Be it a private contract, a freelance job, a government contract or any other type of job that is thrown open for people in your field to work on. You must always be on top of things and try some of the techniques discussed below to give you an edge of coming out on top and landing the contract.
Sometimes the employer is in a rush and doesn’t have time for too much scrutiny. All he needs is someone who can get the job dome and the contract is awarded. He might even be outsourcing himself. So the first five or six people to submit a bid puts themselves in a pole position of landing the contract.
Build relationships beforehand
Identify the organisations you want to do business with and then build relationships with the employers where possible. Ideally before they even think of issuing a tender, send them articles or even ask them to speak at an event. You’re not stalking them, but giving them the opportunity to get to know you, your organisation and the value you can add.
You want them to view you as a trusted adviser. When you respond to one of their tenders, they already know, like and trust you, so you’ve tipped the odds of winning in your favour.
Personalise the bid
Although it’s good to talk about your previous projects in your bud, reduce your generalization rate and talk to the client or their rep as if your good or service is made specifically for them. While personalizing bids for an organization, your bid should suit a group of four people.
The Boss – As the most senior decision-maker, they are interested in results.
The Money Person – Typically the finance director, they will assess your bid in terms of value for money and return on investment.
The Expert – Sometimes cast as the ‘geek’, they will scrutinise the detail of your proposal with their deep technical knowledge.
The End-User – This person wants to know how your product or service will affect them and their team.
Tailor your bid to each one and they’ll be more open to your proposition.
Bid like it’s a project
A bid is a project: it has an output (the bid document or presentation), an outcome (contract award), immovable timescales (submission date), internal milestones (kick-off and review meetings, document drafts, rehearsals, presentation) and a scope (defined by the spec and tender documents). But, like any project, a bid is only as good as the person managing it
Don’t go hyping yourself
To make your bid compelling, talk more about them than you. Every aspect of your bid –structure, language, focus and content — should show you have the employer at heart. Appeal to their self-interest and they’ll be more receptive to your message.
As for language, convert all the features of your product or service into benefits for the buyer. The client is more interested in what they will get when they appoint you, than in what you will do. And summarise all those benefits in a compelling executive summary at the front.
The pitch is your last chance to persuade the client to give you the green light, so ensure they answer ‘Yes’ to these questions about you: ‘Do they offer us more value for money than any other bidder?’, ‘Do they understand us and our business?’, ‘Are they a team?’, ‘Are they keen to work with us?’ and, finally, ‘Can we work with them?’ (The last one’s a deal-breaker.)
Although, bear in mind that the same way you’re asking yourself or your team is the same way your client is asking his/her own team and 75% of clients base their conclusion on perception.
Look before you leap
Assessing your chances of winning and deciding whether or not to bid which is known as ‘pre-qualification’ has the potential of raising your win-rate.
To assess an opportunity, look at four things:
Is it winnable – do you know all the buyers well enough to tailor your response to them?
Is it deliverable – can you deliver the contract if you win?
Is it desirable – does the contract fit with your core business?
Is it profitable – will you make money out of it?
At the heart of these questions lies a paradox: win more bids by doing fewer of them but those few should be well done. You should pray too if you believe in prayers just because of the Nigerian “Man-Know-Man” syndrome.
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