Competitive bidding is used across all industries as a procurement method to acquire the best possible price for goods or services. The idea is that it forces suppliers to compete for pricing and the company will gain a better value for their money. On some projects, only two or three suppliers may bid on the business based on their expertise and relationship with the organisation. In others, there may be quotes provided from dozens of suppliers. In many instances, suppliers are not awarded the business and this can be a reoccurring theme if they are unaware of their mistakes.
Bids fail to convince the customer when they do not observe the standard rules that do not fulfil a compelling and winning response. As the old saying goes: good bids may not necessarily win but poor bids will always lose.
There are many reoccurring features of an unsuccessful business bid. However, the following five are the most important.
- 1. Generic Terms
Clients never want to speak in vagaries. They want specific information that is relevant to their business. Although this main seem self-evident, often, bids are presented as template-driven or 'cut and paste' responses. If they request a quote for a product, then provide them with every bit of information necessary to make an informed decision. As part of the bidding process, clients like to see costs and timing to ensure it is on-par with the company cost of goods and timeline for launch. There are actually many companies that could benefit from bid writing training to provide more detailed terminology instead of speaking in generic terms.
- 2. Lack of Research
In many instances, the supplier is not aware of what the customer wants or needs and is bidding in hopes of just being awarded the business When the supplier cannot answer basic questions about the bid or even their clients, it decreases credibility. To be competitive, it is important to demonstrate an understanding of the quote and the client's objectives. This is accomplished by providing details about the product or service that will help the client achieve their goals. This builds on the first rule of not speaking in generic terms.
- 3. Late Submission
Believe it or not, late submissions of quotes occur constantly in business. The reasoning could be that sub-contractors are late, the sales team working on many quotes simultaneously and focus on the larger clients or just plain neglect. In every industry, there are excellent account manager and sub-par account managers; it is behavioural based. To many clients, a late submission is disrespectful and can certainly cause a loss of business.
- 4. Misquoted
Similar to a late submission, something as small as not following the instructions can cause misquoting which does not give the client what they need. It is as simple as reading the request for quote (RFQ), gathering and inputting the information and then checking it to ensure all instructions were followed. Misquoting is one of the top reasons account managers are not awarded the business.
- 5. No Proof of Execution
Clients always want to see evidence and proof of execution. Of course, they can come in multiple forms such as case studies, customer testimonials, awards, references, accreditation, third-party audits and many other types of documentation. In some instances, if a supplier has successfully produced other products for the client before, their credibility will increase. On the other hand, a poor execution can be a blemish on the supplier's record.
Account managers and salespeople can and will guarantee every part of the process but without proof of execution, 'guarantee' is just another word. Whenever a claim is made, it should be backed up with the appropriate reference or evidence which should be included in the official bid.
These are the main five of multiple reasons why a bid can fail. Although they may seem simple enough, it can be easy to unknowingly develop bad bid writing habits that can lead to regular failures. The time must be taken to review these five reoccurring features of unsuccessful business bids. However, once these common mistakes have been eradicated and practiced to ensure they are not repeated, consistently winning bids will be much less of a problem.