Writing Bids

Writing a tender application is time consuming business. You need to select the right opportunities, create a compelling response and avoid wasting time on tenders you can’t win. Here are some simple tips which will help:

  1. Understand and answer the question(s)

This seems obvious, but often people answer what they think they need to answer, and miss this point of the question entirely. When writing a tender, it is key to list all the questions in the right order, check that you understand them and then answer them in the order they are asked. Remember that the person reading it needs to understand quickly that you understand what they are looking for and that you can deliver it.

  1. Don’t waffle

Your tender is likely to be one of many so you want yours to be easy to understand so that the evaluator can score you maximum points. To do this, keep your responses concise, use simple language that the evaluator will understand, make sure you spell out any acronyms at first use (don’t assume they will know) and keep it as short and simple as possible. Try using free apps such as Grammarly or Hemmingway to test your writing skills.

  1. Use active language over passive phrases

This helps keep your tender short and to the point and reads much better. For example:

We are submitting our tender.

This tender is being submitted by…

Don’t leave them guessing: Say “We will…” not “We are able to…”, or “We can…”.

  1. Be personal

If you want your tender to attract attention, keep the focus on your prospect. Begin as many paragraphs as possible with their name, and avoid over use of your own company name.

  1. The ‘So what?’ – explain what’s in it for them

All the person reading your document wants to know is what you can deliver for them. Highlight how your skills, knowledge, experience and proposal will benefit their business or organisation. Whenever you explain what you will do, ask yourself the question “Is it clear what is in it for them?”

  1. Provide proof

Make sure you back up your claims with some proof. Use things such as:

  • Case studies
  • References
  • Testimonials
  • Supporting data
  • Marketing studies
  • Demonstrations
  • Awards
  • Trials/pilots
  • Proof of concept
  • Competitor matrices
  • Site visits
  • Customer surveys
  • Press articles
  • Third party awards and accreditations
  1. Paint a picture

Start by describing what you will do, then build on the detail by describing how you’ll do it. Consider the tools, systems, processes, people elements.

Finish with examples of how and when you have made a difference to your customers before. Case studies don’t need to be long, but they should include evidence showing how you delivered a similar solution to that which the tender is looking for and what the results were.

  1. Spend time to make it visually attractive and easy to read

Make good use of headings, sub-headings, tables, call-out boxes, photos, process diagrams, graphics and white space. If project work is required, include a timetable or a project management plan to demonstrate you can manage complex programmes of work.

9. If your tender or proposal is to an existing or former customer, remind them of the progress you’ve made together during the previous contract term, what problems have you solved and what achievements have you made. Explain how the risk is lower through keeping the business with someone who already know how they work.


10. Ask somebody else to check it – find a colleague, or pay a professional, to proofread your final draft. Any spelling or grammatical mistakes can make you look unprofessional and lacking in attention to detail. Don’t forget to check that you have answered every question in the right order and met all the requirements. Label any appended documentation clearly to make it easy for the reader to check.

If you have an accountant, they should be your first stop for business advice. If you don’t have an accountant or they can’t help, BuBul has a wide range of experts available. For more advice on bid writing, contact our expert* Emma on LinkedIn.

*We’ve picked experts we know and trust who are good at what they do. All of them will give you at least an extra 30 minutes free advice if you contact them and would then charge their normal prices. They don’t pay to be on BuBul and don’t give us any money from anything they earn as an expert.