Why it’s important to put the scope into the bid
In a previous post, we wrote about the importance of listening to the buyer – and the best way to listen is to read the procurement documents fully. This article takes the analogy a little further.
The bid is your half of a conversation with the buyer.
Just like in any conversation, it would be weird to listen without showing that you’re paying attention. Let’s say a friend is telling you a long story about what happened to them last Friday. If you stayed quiet during the full five-minute story and didn’t react, your friend might reasonably assume you’re not listening. Instead, we tend to repeat back words to demonstrate we’re paying attention (imagine, two minutes into your friend’s Friday night monologue, they mention: ‘And then, I bumped into Dave from HR.’ You might then say, ‘Oh yeah, Dave?’)
We use these techniques in spoken English to be polite, but we can also do a similar thing in written bids to show we’re listening and understanding, and that we’re sympathetic towards the buyer’s needs.
We can ‘listen’ to the buyer by reading their procurement documents thoroughly, and we can show them we’re listening by integrating their scope of requirements into our bid responses.
By reflecting the scope in our responses, we can clearly demonstrate that we understand the buyers’ requirements and better articulate how we can make their vision for the product or service come to life.
How to make sure your answer reflects the specification
Reading and understanding the specification is always the most important part, so make sure you understand the bid before, during, and after you write. When I’m working on a bid, I always have the relevant specification documents open at these three critical points:
1) Planning – when I’m reading through the documents for the first time, I make notes on the bits of specification that I think are most important for a compelling answer. This includes the buyer’s ‘pain points’ (so I can show them how I’m going to fix them), their terminology (do they call it a Project Manager or a Contract Manager?), and any specific requirements they have (for example, do they have their own CAFM they want you to use?).
It’s important to know these things from the get-go because it means you won’t make any errors when you’re solutioning – these errors can very easily slip through the gaps once they get put into a draft. It also makes drafting a bit easier, because you know what you must cover in your response. If you’re on a big, long-term bid, consider making a style guide so that all writers are on the same page about key bid terminology.
2) Writing – hopefully, all the key details were caught during planning stage, but I’d recommend keeping a copy of the procurement documents open in the background while you’re writing. Then, if I have any quick questions, I can CTRL+F in the relevant document to find the appropriate wording.
3) Reviewing – if you have enough time, I would strongly recommend doing a final check against the scope when you’re reviewing responses. This helps you spot where things may have fallen through the cracks. For example, you may be so used to solutioning in one way that you’ve not fully accounted for the changes that the buyer needs.
It’s also worth having at least a cursory look at any other relevant documents or policies, as well as the ongoing CQ log. If you’re writing a sustainability answer, and the procurement documents mention a ‘Council 2030 Net Zero Strategy’, you’d be putting yourself at a massive disadvantage if you didn’t read it and understand it. Again, let’s imagine the Friday night conversation with a friend: if you don’t know who Dave from HR is, you’d probably end up embarrassing yourself if you tried talking about him. It’s the same with bidding: make sure you know what you’re talking about.
Fitting the scope into the written response
So, how do you show the buyer you’ve been listening? Luckily, when you understand the scope, it’s really easy to weave it into the response in a confident and natural way, for instance by:
- Using their language – does the buyer want a ‘seamless’ mobilisation? Tell them exactly how your company will make it seamless for them. This shows you’ve been listening to what matters. Or, maybe, they want you to head their Supply Chain Innovation Forum? Mention this forum.
- Building off their ideas – again, let’s go back to the conversation with a friend; they’ve had a falling out, and they’re trying to figure out what went wrong. You can just agree with them or, better yet, you could offer them another perspective or some tailored advice.
The latter approach shows you’re more invested in making things better for your friend – or in this case, the buyer. If the buyer wants you to head their Supply Chain Innovation Forum, don’t just accept it. Tell them what you can do beyond the scope of what they’ve told you.
- Not telling them what they already know – this is more of a style tip. Just like in a normal conversation, you wouldn’t say ‘five sentences ago, you mentioned…’, as it would be unnatural (and a waste of precious word count!) to explicitly call out the buyer’s requirements.
As a general rule, don’t say that you’ll do things ‘in line with your specification’. This makes it sound a little begrudging, like it’s not really something you want to do.
There is an exception to this though: this technique can be helpful in a massive procurement with multiple lengthy documents. In this case, you may want to consider using references to the scope to make it absolutely clear that you’ve read and understood what the buyer has said, particularly where you’re addressing the minutiae of the buyer’s requirements.
Say things like ‘in accordance with Document X, Clause Y’ to show that you know their requirements like the back of your hand.
How we can help
At Kittle Group, all our writers go through a lengthy training programme that helps them tailor their writing to the procurement, meaning we get consistently high scores from buyers. If you need additional help with writing or want someone to review your submission for compliance and quality, please reach out to our Business Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.