I’ve worked on enough of these to know that it was probably started late, with not enough resources, not enough time to do your solution justice, and a scramble to gather, collate, write, edit and review all the information and get it out the door before the deadline.
Does that sound familiar?
If you answered ‘no’, I wish I worked for you in the past.
But if you answered ‘yes’ (as I suspect) then you’re really not making the best use of your time and resources.
Writing proposals and putting together tenders always takes longer than you think
Proposals and tenders put additional demands on busy people.
Preparing a tender, in particular, is a costly exercise — in time and money. There are many challenges involved.
The documents can be complex, with business and technical content being provided by multiple parts of your company.
You’re working towards a deadline — quite possibly controlled by an electronic tender lodgement system that you can’t sweet talk if you’re a few minutes late.
And regardless of your intentions of running the bid response as a project, other things get in the way. Day-to-day operations. Client projects. Or just the fact that the due date is 4 weeks in the future.
Writing a proposal or working on a tender can be daunting for someone who’s not familiar with the process. The time slips away so quickly that, before you know it, you’re working all-nighters to get it finished.
And that’s when things get missed or forgotten, and when mistakes get made.
Are your valuable resources making the best use of their valuable time?
Do you want to make the process of writing proposals and tenders far more cost-effective and less painful for all concerned?
Of course you do.
But, to get what you want, you need to ask yourself some tough questions:
- Do you write a lot of the same content from scratch … over and over again?
- What’s the risk of putting the wrong information in your response because you’ve depended on content from an old proposal or tender submission?
- How much time is wasted because bid team members are bothering other people to get information that isn’t easily accessible?
- How much time do you spend on the format and layout of your response documents?
- What’s the risk to your image and reputation of submitting a proposal or tender that doesn’t truly represent your brand?
Well, here’s 3 things you can do to use time more effectively, reduce stress and keep your bid teams happy.
1. Create re-usable content
A repository of re-usable content is invaluable. And it’s a super way to save time.
Just copy and paste.
I’m talking about basic stuff like your business registration details, the list of directors, the list of shareholders (if you’re a private company), lists of accreditations and affiliations, and insurance details. Gather it all together so that anyone can find it when they need it.
I’m also talking about descriptions of your business, its products and services. But not just marketing blurbs. Content written specifically for use in proposals and tenders. Content that can be reworked to answer specific questions and meet specific requirements.
Creating re-usable content keeps your bid teams happy by reducing the stress of finding or producing commonly asked-for content.
What’s more, you can be safe in the knowledge that content is written in a way that’s already reviewed and approved as the best representation of your products, services, company and brand.
Just make sure the content lives somewhere everyone can find it. If you have an intranet, upload it there. And make sure there’s a clear process for adding, updating and deleting the content.
2. Develop a set of templates to fit all of your sales needs
There are times when a proposal or tender won’t have a predefined response format. Be prepared for those times.
Your sales staff and others who are used in bid teams aren’t necessarily writers. They’re experts in their own fields. Don’t let them waste time staring at a blank page wondering where to start. Give them well thought-out, carefully structured templates with loads of instructions.
This takes out the guesswork and leads them to deliver the level of quality you want.
And, as much as possible, you want the sales process built into your templates. That means having a sound structure and including instructions to your team so they understand what goes where.
When new people join your company, you don’t always want them bringing their old ways of doing things. You want them to come up to speed as quickly as possible to meet your expectations.
You can have a lot of control over this just by having the right templates.
3. Have standards for quality
This one’s a no-brainer if you want your prospects, customers and the market to get a consistent representation of your business.
How well a proposal or tender is presented, and how clear and easy it is to read, gives the right first impression, which is so important.
And high-quality, fully branded proposals and tenders boost your image and reputation in the marketplace.
So you need standards which explain the level of quality expected: how the finished product should be written and presented, whether you’re responding to predefined response schedules or creating your own response documents.
It’s about consistency in what you’re saying as well as in the format and layout of the documents.
It’s about emphasising your brand as more than just a logo on a page, making it an inseparable part of a document’s fabric.
It’s about making sure you’re not reworking the documents at the eleventh hour because they’re not up to scratch.
Work more cost-effectively, reduce stress and keep your bid teams happy
When you’re working to a deadline for a proposal or tender, the less you have to look for and think about, the better.
Build re-usable content that your sales team and other staff have access to. It’s a great relief knowing that a whole lot of standard content is just a click or two away.
And be prepared with templates which support your sales process, and standards which make it easier to manage quality and consistency.
When time’s running out and a proposal or tender needs to get out the door, you and your team will be thankful things like this are in place.
What’s more, your valuable resources can spend their valuable time focused on winning the work.