Be More Interesting than Eastenders

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Whenever I train colleagues at Mace or other organisations that we support, I start with my top 10 tips for improving your next proposal (I’m sure many of them will appear in this edition of BQ). The tip that raises the most eyebrows (and can be the most contentious, as people like to believe it’s the depth and detail of their content that matters most): the need to pass the Eastenders test.

You know your bid needs to be interesting, eye-catching, well written and easy to evaluate. We know evaluators will generally be marking your tender outside of work in their spare time with a million distractions going on in their lives. Your submission needs to be more interesting than these distractions.

So the Eastenders Test is simple. Does your proposal keep the evaluator’s attention when in background, on the TV, Kat Slater is about to throw Phil Mitchell out of that pub? Does it keep them reading, wanting to know more, and wanting to score you highly? Or do they skim-read and put you in the pile with all the other average bidders?

There are several ways we can create interest in our proposal, make it stand out, ensure it is memorable and is the one that the evaluator wants to tell their colleagues about. Here are a few things to add to your Eastenders test cheat-sheet: focus on the structure and navigation of your bid, create visual interest (I typically aim for one graphic or pop-out box per page) and cut out corporate waffle. If you want to keep interest, stop talking about your company’s history, journey, mission, values and successes and talk about the client.

As an evaluator on a multi-billion pound procurement, I have seen firsthand how bids that keep attention score higher. On a major infrastructure procurement, with an evaluation team of 20 people, bids which would pass the test generally scored 10-15% higher than those which didn’t – even though the content was largely similar. It’s scary how personal evaluation really can be!

This article was written by Mike Reader.

Mike Reader is one of the UK’s leading work winning professionals, helping senior leaders navigate the bidding and sales world. He leads a specialist team at Mace who work across all continents pursuing mega built environment and infrastructure projects. He also loves cold water swimming, politics and good food.

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