Merry Christmas from Bid Solutions

As 2015 draws to a close, many of you may be considering a new challenge in 2016. Whether you are looking for permanent or freelance opportunities we can assist you with your search.

If you are looking for a permanent opportunity please get in touch and let us know what kind of role you’re looking for. Contact us on 020 8158 3952 /

If you are freelancing or considering it in future, our Associate Directory is a great place to directly market your skills to our client base. Publishing yourself on the website as an associate is simple; all we need is a 250 word profile outlining your key achievements and experience, an updated CV and to confirm your daily rate and availability and we’ll do the rest.

If you haven’t yet seen the Associate Search you can find it here:

From all the team at Bid Solutions, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Please note: We are closed from 23rd December and will reopen on 4th January

To view our latest vacancies for bid and proposal professionals, follow this link. To help us connect you with a winner to add to your team, follow this link.

Exploiting weaknesses in your competitors approach

Exploiting weaknesses in your competitors approach, or ghosting as it is now more prosaically known is a subtle method of casting doubt in the minds of the evaluators over the solutions, approaches and track records of competitors, without naming them.

This week’s blog installment from our partners at twentysix2 ‘Exploiting weaknesses in your competitor’s approach’

Ghosting draws attention to their weaknesses and provides an opportunity for bidders to emphasise their own strengths.

There are opportunities to ghost throughout the proposal lifecycle: in the capture phase, when developing the solution and at the proposal stage.

When presenting your solution, describe aspects of your approach which are important to the customer in ways which competitors cannot match. Ghost the solutions of competitors by describing how they were first considered and then eliminated, explaining the risks and giving the reasons why an alternative solution was considered preferable. If you expect a potential competitor to offer a low-cost solution, draw attention to how the potential risks of their solution significantly outweigh any apparent cost benefits.

Similarly, examine various approaches to the management of the project which your competitors may have proposed, explaining the superiority of your approach and demonstrating improved outcomes for the customer. If you propose teaming, you might emphasise the benefits of the wider pool of expertise and describe the selection criteria by which partners were chosen and by inference, others rejected. Conversely, if you propose an in-house team, emphasise the potential risks associated with teaming.

Where possible, use testimonials in your proposals from independent bodies (or existing clients) to provide impartial validation which supports ghosting – the more credible the source appears to your customer the better. Third-party validation of an outstanding safety record might ghost a competitor who has recently experienced safety issues; a customer testimonial relating to response times or service levels might ghost the struggling performance of an incumbent.

Finally, consider how your competitors might ghost your solution, approach, and track record and how you can credibly pre-empt what competitors may say about your perceived weaknesses.

A note of caution. Don’t expect your proposal team to identify shortcomings in their own proposals – they will be too close to the action. Instead, review your competitive strategy periodically with an independent team who know the customer and likely competitors.

Some may caution against overuse but the influence of ghosting on proposal evaluators is largely subliminal. The cumulative effect of ghosting creates a competitive edge which can be the difference it takes to win business.

Points to consider:

  • How does the customer perceive your competitors, their solutions and track records?
  • How can you exploit weaknesses in your competitor’s approaches?
  • Can you provide impartial validation to support your claims?
  • How does the customer perceive you, your approach and your solution?
  • What will competitors say about your solution, approach or track record?
  • Do you have weaknesses that can be exploited by your competitors?
  • How can you pre-empt any perceived weaknesses?

Author: Ian Sherwood CPP.APMP, Bid and Proposals Director, twentysix2

To discuss how Bid Solutions’ consultancy services can help you win more business, please get in touch on 020 8158 3952 /

Bid Solutions weekly update

If you’re looking for new opportunities to kick start 2016 we have a number of exciting permanent and fixed term roles available, including:

Fixed Term Contracts – Bid Manager Jobs

Bid Manager – 6 month contract in Basildon, Essex. This is an International-wide role with a leading software organisation. Salary up to £60k. Vacancy ref – 13540

Bid Manager – 12 month contract in London Bridge. This role requires effective management of bids from inception to completion for a prestigious data management organisation. Salary up to £45k. Vacancy ref – 13544

If you or someone you know would be interested in finding out more, please contact Amanjit Sangha on 0208 973 2478 /

A permanent Senior Bid Writer opportunity based in Paddington, London. The role is responsible for writing and contributing to tenders, taking content from subject matter experts and translating it into a winning proposal document. Salary up to £50k. Vacancy ref – 13425

EMEA Bid Manager opportunity based in West London. Responsible for complex global and national bids and to champion best practice across the team. Salary up to £85k. Vacancy ref – 13547

If you or someone you know would be interested in finding out more, please contact Ben Hannon on 0208 973 2462 /

Visit our Job Search page to view all of our live vacancies and apply.

To view our latest vacancies for bid and proposal professionals, follow this link. To help us connect you with a winner to add to your team, follow this link.

Do you use storyboards to plan proposals?

Storyboarding is a planning process used to create a visual summary of the structure and major elements of a proposal.

The next blog installment from our partners at twentysix2 is ‘Overcoming Objections to Storyboarding’.

The bid storyboard should be created before writing commences, the degree of complexity reflecting the scale and scope of the proposal. Pricing quotes for repeat business for an existing customer do not normally require this level of planning.

Organisations that use storyboards successfully understand that they are an integral part of the proposal process. They ensure that those tasked with implementation are familiar with them and can adequately explain their purpose. They commit the time needed to ensure that the storyboards are reviewed and updated completely before the messages are communicated to the writers.

Objections to a Bid Storyboard

The main objection to storyboarding is that it is an additional, unnecessary task that takes time away from writing. In reality, it is an essential planning tool which, when used effectively, provides the proposal manager with a method of controlling the proposal process and enables contributors to produce content that can be used without re-writing.

Here are some of the benefits of using storyboards to plan proposals:

  • Validates strategic & competitive approach – Because storyboarding looks at planning the entire proposal, it provides the opportunity to articulate a winning strategy and an approach to dealing with competitors which can be disseminated to contributors before writing commences.
  • Identifies potential strategic short-comings in a timely manner – Individual contributors, writing in isolation, may not be aware of capability gaps which can be rectified more quickly the sooner they are identified.
  • Provides the opportunity for collaboration on the solution – Although the proposal manager will normally take responsibility for the storyboard, detailed proposal planning is an iterative process involving the operational, technical and marketing teams from whom opportunities for collaboration may be identified.
  • Facilitates easy executive overview for approval – The reality of time constraints means executives are unlikely to read and approve every page of the proposal. Engaging senior management at the storyboard stage provides the opportunity for early approval of the strategy.
  • Provides a benchmark against which to review – Having identified strategic themes and competitive strategies, proposal contents can be reviewed to ensure that these messages are consistently applied.
  • Storyboarding can eliminate major re-writes, saving time & money – Organisations that use storyboards or similar proposal planning processes can double their productivity and halve the cost of writing proposals.

The bid storyboard is normally completed immediately after the proposal kick-off meeting and reviewed before writing starts. Following the review, bid contributors can be comprehensively briefed about win themes, competitive strategy and their responsibilities.

Author: Ian Sherwood CPP.APMP, Bid and Proposals Director, twentysix2.

If you want help with Storyboards, planning or any other aspect of proposal management, Bid Solutions’ consultancy services can show you the quickest way to make the biggest improvements. Please get in touch on 020 8158 3952 /

To learn more about how we can help you improve your bid win rates, click here.



Are you using reviews for strategic advantage & risk reduction?

An organisation’s ability to manage proposals increases as it adopts best practice. Reviews are used by best-in-class organisations to win business more effectively, efficiently and economically, with less risk. So how do reviews increase risk reduction?

Here is the second instalment of blogs from our partners twentysix2 ‘Using reviews for strategic advantage and risk reduction’.

Risk 1. Investing resources in bids that you can’t win.

Evidence – Win rates are < 50%; you win smaller bids, but lose bigger ones; morale is low.

Solution – Develop an effective bid qualification process and implement ruthlessly.

Risk 2. Failing to develop a compelling win strategy.

Evidence – Your proposal doesn’t make it clear why the prospect should choose you, in fact, it could have come from any one of your competitors.

Solution – Develop a win strategy focused on the benefits that the prospect is seeking which your organisation is uniquely positioned to deliver.

Risk 3. Ignoring the strengths, strategies & capabilities of competitors.

Evidence – Competitors are regularly winning business that you are better placed to fulfill and should be winning.

Solution – Recognise how the prospect perceives the strengths & potential strategies of your competitors whilst subtly drawing attention to their weaknesses.

Risk 4. Failing to communicate the win strategy to all bid contributors.

Evidence – Extensive re-writing causes delays and frustration among contributors.

Solution – Ensure bid contributors are comprehensively briefed about strategy, win themes and responsibilities before writing commences.

Risk 5. Presenting solutions based on features rather than benefits.

Evidence – Proposals, heavy on features, look similar to proposals for other prospects.

Solution – Ensure the proposal is benefit-focused, with a compelling win strategy that clearly addresses competitive issues.

Risk 6. Underestimating the financial & operation risks of the proposal.

Evidence – Proposals make promises to prospects that the organisation cannot profitably execute or that exposes the organisation to unacceptable operational risks.

Solution – Examine assumptions underlying the prospect’s requirements, the execution of the solution, and costs to ensure an acceptable level of risk and profit.

Risk 7. Submitting a proposal that lacks credibility.

Evidence – Proposal is submitted to prospect with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and inconsistent formatting.

Solution – Allow time for proof reading and editing.

Risk 8. Not learning lessons from previous campaigns.

Evidence – Bid contributors repeat mistakes, processes are ad hoc and material is re-created from scratch. Client feedback is not used.

Solution – After submission, examine the process to ensure that it is effective and efficient. Use client feedback to enhance future proposals.

Proponents of best practice will recognise that, excluding the first which is Bid Qualification, these risks are mitigated by engaging the operational, technical and marketing teams to implement reviews.

You may have some of these reviews in place, or implement them in a different way. The same solution will not work for all organisations nor for every type and size of proposal. What’s important is knowing the quickest way to achieve the desired outcome.

Need helpith Risk Reduction?

If you want help with reviews, or any aspect of proposal management, we can show you the quickest way to make the biggest improvements; we call it, ‘taking the racing line’.

Author: Ian Sherwood CPP.APMP, Bid and Proposals Director, twentysix2

To discuss how Bid Solutions’ consultancy services can help you win more business, please get in touch on 020 8158 3952 / or visit this page.