Common reasons for bid underperformance

The email or letter you’ve been waiting for finally arrives. You read the first line…

“We regret to inform you that, on this occasion, you have been unsuccessful in this tender.”

Deflation. Despair. What went wrong? Now, the inquest begins.

If this scenario sounds familiar and continues to be played out within your company, we’ve compiled a list of investigative questions.  Working through each question with your bid team could help to diagnose the problem areas, and hopefully prevent another unsuccessful response.

To make the most progress, you must answer honestly!

Did you fully understand the scope of work?

Unsurprisingly, if you fail to comprehend the scope of work set out in the Invitation To Tender, you’ll struggle to build a winning proposal. You must study the scope of work very carefully. If something doesn’t make sense or you need clarification, make sure you revert to the contracting authority and ask for further information. As yourself, “do I fully understand the client’s drivers and requirements”.

Did you provide enough relevant detail or actually answer the question?

Some bidders overdress their responses with irrelevant details, while others don’t offer enough information to fully answer the questions. Assessors want to see precise responses which are to the point and meet the specification criteria. Make sure you understand what the question is specifically looking for. A common mistake is to latch onto a keyword and answer everything you know about that topic, while entirely missing the root of the question.

Did you provide enough convincing evidence and past experience?

Your submissions must be backed up with proof. Evaluators want to see evidence of the quality of your work. Previous successful projects should be the source of your supporting evidence. Case studies, supporting documents, photos, illustrations and testimonials will add weight to your bid. If the tender specification requires a minimum level of expertise or a certain number of years’ experience within a sector, you must demonstrate this to ensure compliance.

Did you conduct a thorough review before submission?

Not having a robust review process can result in your bid being littered with incorrect information, pricing numbers that don’t stack up, spelling mistakes or typos. It’s important that supporting documentation including organisational charts, infographics, CVs, case studies, policies, procedures and methodologies are checked by a fresh set of eyes.

Did you copy and paste from previous tenders?

If you’re simply duplicating content taken from past unsuccessful bids…guess what?  You’ll end up with the same unsuccessful result. If a tender is worth your time and effort, make sure you do it justice by creating fresh content relevant to the specific specification. Copying and pasting old sections can easily lead to entire paragraphs being misplaced or containing erroneous information. Avoid this practice at all costs.

Did you check for basic administrative errors?

Under the category of ‘administrative errors’ common mistakes include: Omitting mandatory documents, failing to sign documents or statements, not answering all the questions, incomplete forms, ignoring word count quotas, disregarding font type / size, format and layout rules. Any administrative aspect which is not adhered to is a potential reason the assessors will use to exclude your bid.

Did you check that your bid is fully compliant?

Contracting authorities closely scrutinise core compliance areas such as health and safety practices, quality management systems, supply chain management, environmental and waste management practices etc. Often there are minimum mandatory levels of accreditation required and examples of good practice should be clearly demonstrated.  Make sure you comply in all mandatory areas before you start compiling your bid response.

Did you provide solid references?

Providing relevant references will establish credibility. But care should be taken in choosing the right referee. Make sure they are recent – within the last two years ideally. References should be for projects similar to those that you are tendering for and they should be for work you are able to showcase in detail should the need arise. A contactable reference is a strong indication of client satisfaction so do ask for permission and inform your contacts they may be approached by the contracting authority.

Did you demonstrate where you add value throughout the bid?

Every answer in your bid should aim to demonstrate where your company, product or service can add value to the client. Align your answer with key motivators such as efficiency, time saving, risk reduction and of course cost savings.

When evaluating costs, awarding authorities like to see detail and transparency. Your bid should aim to explain all itemised costs explicitly. Overpricing or under-pricing without clear reason or rationale will be red flag to evaluators. It’s important to annotate costs with narrative that demonstrates how your financial offer adds value.

And remember, you can’t win them all!

There will be times when factors out of your control influence the outcome of the tender process. Unfortunately, that’s just a commercial reality. However, if your bid writing process remains rigorous and your commitment to continuous improvement remains steadfast, it will only be a matter of time before you win.

For more information on our services, you can check them out here. We can help you win your next bid.