Deriving value from unsuccessful bids

Snowboard crash

Discovering your bid was unsuccessful is an understandably frustrating experience – no one enjoys learning that the cumulative time and effort spent on the submission was in vain and, with some exceptions, there are no prizes for coming second in this game. However, unsuccessful bids can help guide solution development, as well as how this information is portrayed, so that future submissions are desirable for Buyers.

Below we outline some ways in which value can be derived from losing submissions, so that they can lead to future wins.

Requesting detailed feedback

Most Buyers will provide some feedback on why your submission was not successful, and your scores against that of the winning tender.  If you have not received feedback or it is insufficiently detailed to be meaningful, you should ask for more information. This will help you establish areas where you scored well, and areas for improvement. Things to look out for are:

  • How did you score overall? There’s more to consider if you scored last, than if you scored second!
  • Were your provided case studies relevant to the contract? Case studies should be as similar to the prospective contract as possible, to showcase to the Buyer you have the ability to carry out their contract. Irrelevant, or vaguely related case studies, will score poorly, or worst case, see Buyers disqualify you from further evaluation.
  • Was an area of your solution considered underdeveloped? Marking criteria typically talk in terms of ‘providing the Buyer confidence’ – that what they are requesting will be fully met to their standards.
  • Did the winner offer greater added value? Feedback will not typically say what added value was offered, but it can drive discussion on what benefits you can offer in future bids.

Evaluation of this feedback should then be recorded so that future bidding activity can benefit from it.

Cataloguing bid feedback to inform improvement

Creating a simple log of bid feedback can support improvements on future bids. This does not have to be complex. Whilst marking is ultimately subjective, and what one Buyer appreciates, another may dislike, there is value in this. Over time, you will build a picture of what Buyers think about your solution. For example, if everyone thinks your social value offering is insufficient, you’ll soon learn and want to make changes!

With feedback in hand, you will be able to read through the submission and make comments against it.

A plea to Buyers

We appreciate that Buyers, like everyone, are busy people, and with multiple bids that need evaluating, it is not always possible to provide very detailed feedback. However, we do ask Buyers to recognise that companies spend thousands of pounds preparing bids, often through lost income while they have been writing them. We, therefore, encourage you to respect the time and effort that has been made by providing timely feedback that is objective and useful. If you cannot do so in writing, please consider offering a phone call to talk the bidder through why their submission was not successful. Helping them may improve the quality of their submission for next time around which is also a good thing for you. It will also encourage bidders to consider re-tendering again, something most of you express in your outcome letters.

Getting an independent view

You may find that an independent review may also help. As bid consultants, our writers regularly review former submissions and those in preparation, in conjunction with the Buyer’s requirements and marking criteria, to provide constructive feedback on how to improve. We can also provide objective reports across the bid as a whole, detailing main themes and areas for improvement.

For more information on reviews, or wider services we offer, why not contact one of our business development representatives a call on 01491 902021, or say hello at

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