Convincing the client

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Imagine, for a moment, that you are in the Public Sector and it is getting towards the end of a difficult week. You get back from lunch to find a note on your desk to ring the boss. She says “We have had an evaluator for one of our tender competitions go sick. We need you to take over the work. The evaluation for the remaining three questions has to be done before you go home today!”

I expect your reaction would not be one of joy and happiness. For many people, critically reviewing tender responses is not a great way for them to use their time. Indeed, some would prefer to roll naked in a nettle bed rather than evaluate tenders!

Now imagine that in your review, you pick up one tender which has all the information laid out in the order you have in your check sheet. As you go through, you can pick up the evidence you need without having to dig through a pile of superlatives and unwanted “bonus” features. In addition, you don’t need a copy of a dictionary beside you to work out what the obscure words mean, like the complicated words that come up in the other bids. You know that they have only been added to make the writer sound intelligent. You want to ignore them, but you have a legal duty to understand them!

Of course, you will only score the tender on the information which is presented. All the content must be tested against the scoring criteria. However, this response is on the cusp between a four or a five. Which do you give? It is likely that your emotional response to the ease of assessment will cut in and you will go for the higher mark.

Imagine, now, that you are a bid author. You enjoy your job and you are excited about what you have to offer. Indeed, you cannot wait to write down all the super things which your solution will do for the prospective client. You have a “brilliant and world beating solution, designed by your leading experts in the most innovative technology, which is not only trail-blazing but will be the benchmark for all future instantiations of icon alignment.” Somehow, your good idea for the layout of icons on the screen sounds so much more valuable and important – or does it?

Our job as bid professionals is to win our bids. It is not to display how clever we are to the evaluation team. Nor is it to market our products and services.

It is, only, to make selecting and buying our proposal easy, and easier than the competition. So why do we so often put barriers in the way of doing this?

Our suggestion is that the Bid Manager must brief the team to leave their egos at home and make it easy for the evaluator to evaluate. Each response they write should:

  • Be ordered in the way the question is asked
  • Follow a heading structure and layout that comes from deconstructing the question, before writing starts
  • Not add any features which are not explicitly asked for
  • Tested for comprehension against the Reading Ease and Grade tools built into the word processor

Then, when you get their first draft back, you should run Microsoft Word’s built in Readability Statistics. The Reading Ease score should be above 50. If it is not, send the draft back with instructions to make it easier to understand. And, just for fun, why not try the test on your last Executive Summary?

This article was written by Andrew Haigh.

Andrew is an expert in bidding and tendering, specialising in competitive formal bids into EU Public Sector organisations. Andy is an authority on EU procurement legislation and can bring all these capabilities together to initiate and drive major complex bids through to a successful completion.

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