Best Practice Ideas That You Can Put Into Practice Today

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The Cambridge Dictionary defines best practice as “A working method or set of working methods that is officially accepted as being the best to use in a particular business or industry, usually described formally and in detail.

In other words, best practices are the best way to do things that have been developed through observation, trial and error.

In the bids and proposals world, organisations that want to be more successful in winning business have looked at their own and other organisations’ objectively measurable and successful practices.  They have defined what the best practices are that have led to success and implemented those in their own organisations. The most successful organisations re-evaluate and improve their best practices constantly.

When you submit your bid, you want the evaluators and decision makers to feel positively towards you. To help you achieve this, the following table provides a list of 20 best practice ideas you can put into practice today.

Evaluator reaction: All my requirements have been addressed and all my instructions have been followed.  This was so easy to evaluate correctly.
Related best practices:
1.     Identify and follow the customer’s submission requirements.
2.     Adopt the customer’s numbering scheme, to make it easy for the customer to find the answers they need.
3.     Make it easy for the evaluator to understand the level of compliance of your bid against the requirements by providing references to the detail in your bid, which support your claims of compliance. Highlight where you are compliant. Justify and mitigate where you are not compliant.

Evaluator reaction: This bidder clearly understands both our requirements and business issues.
Related best practices:
4.     Include an Executive Summary that identifies the customer’s business issues and provides a high-level description of how your solution will address them.
5.     Ensure the customer’s name is mentioned first and more often than yours and the bid is written around the customer’s issues.
6.     Ensure the majority of features contained within your solution are linked to quantifiable business benefits for the customer.

Evaluator reaction: It is obvious to me why this bid should be selected.
Related best practices:
7.     Include value propositions, rather than prices alone.
8.     Quote previous customers’ references about relevant past project successes which substantiate the capabilities you are offering in the bid.
9.     Include at least one paragraph in the bid’s Executive Summary on how you will manage the customer’s risk.

Evaluator reaction: It is obvious to me why this bid is better than competitive bids.
Related best practices:
10.  Without naming any competitor, outline a competitor’s likely solution approach and explain to the customer why you did not choose that solution approach yourself.
11.  Without naming any competitor, downplay the benefits to the customer of a likely competitor approach, particularly one that is directly connected to one or more of the customer’s key issues.
12.  Without naming any competitor, highlight differences between your and your competitors’ solutions to the customer, in areas that matter to the customer.

Evaluator reaction: Great!  This bid is well organised, clear and correct.
Related best practices:
13.  Carefully proofread the first few pages of your bid. If you find any spelling or grammatical mistakes, make sure that the whole document is proofread by someone who has not been involved in its creation before it goes out.
14.  Count the number of words in five randomly selected paragraphs. If the average paragraph length is more than 50 words, consider revising the bid to reduce the average paragraph size.
15.  Ensure your bid does not contain any unnecessary jargon and that only “industry-standard” terms are used.

Evaluator reaction: The graphics used in this bid really saved me reading a lot of words and clearly communicate their major selling points.
Related best practices:
16.  Think about creating/using visuals before writing the text. Aim to include an average of two visuals in every three pages of the bid document.
17.  Ensure most of the visuals in your bid have supporting captions.
18.  Ensure the purpose of the visuals you use are understandable in under 10 seconds and the reasons for their inclusion are obvious.

Evaluator reaction: This bid is professionally presented and easy to evaluate. Unlike most bids, I would willingly evaluate this bid again if I had to.
Related best practices:
19.  Your bid design layout makes appropriate use of emphasis devices for key messages – such as white space, frequent headings, use of colour, bold fonts, etc.
20.  Use “informative headings” throughout the bid which summarise the information the reader will find below that heading.


You don’t need to practice best practices to know what they are. However, the more you practice best practices, the better you will get at them.

This article was written by Tony Birch.

Tony Birch is the founder and current Chairman of Shipley Limited in the UK. Tony served on the main board of the APMP for four years and was elected a Fellow of the organisation in 2006, for his work in developing and launching the APMP’s Certification Programme. Since founding Shipley, Tony has trained thousands of sales and bid professionals around the world.

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