There are a few common myths that often deter smaller companies from investing time and money in writing bids. It is as if there is a certain amount of received wisdom already baked into bid projects. Here at Bid Perfect we hear them regularly and thought we would write a few words about the three myths we hear regularly. If you have ever considered any of them to be true, perhaps now is the time to re-evaluate your thoughts.
“It’s all about price; they will just pick the lowest cost - every time.”
Well, this is the one we hear most often and, it must be said, occasionally it may be true; especially when you are dealing with the public sector. However, people sometimes confuse price with cost. The two are separate things and a good bid writer knows this. In fact, let’s be even more specific about the word ‘cost’ and extend it to ‘cost of ownership’. The price is whatever you will pay to take ownership of a product; the cost of ownership is what you pay to maintain it during the period you own and use it.
Another way to look at it, regardless of whether you provide products or services is based on a return on investment model – i.e. for every pound they spend with you, what value in terms of cost efficiencies they will receive back?
Think about the things you buy in your personal life. Do you always buy the cheapest version of everything? No, of course you do not. You buy what your budget dictates you can afford and where you perceive the greatest value to be. In fact, if you estimate the value highly enough, you may be persuaded to go over your budget. For example, when we buy a new car we do not typically set out to buy the cheapest. If we did, we would all be driving around in beat up fourth-hand vehicles likely to fall apart like a clown car at any moment. What we try to do is maximise what we can get for our budget. We will perceive value in things like cost of servicing, fuel consumption and tax cost. We may even place (an undefinable) value on our image when we are using our new car.
A bid may be about price, but it is also about value; long term value and the overall cost of ownership. If your narrative can support the argument for a higher lifetime value and more efficient cost of ownership, then you can negate the point of sale cost argument. Bids that do this well are more likely to win – even if they are not the cheapest.
“They never read it all anyway.”
Yes, they do. In any event, you should assume that they do. Our experience tells us that bids are scoured from end to end and that good bid evaluators will find your strengths and weaknesses, identify your excellent arguments and your inconsistencies, will appreciate your good writing and will abhor your poor writing. In short, they will evaluate your entire bid. You should expect every word, line, paragraph and page to be read, pulled apart, analysed and marked according to the criteria they gave you. Of course, it may sometimes be the case that your bid has not been read thoroughly for a variety of reasons but you cannot take that chance.
Make sure every word of your bid is doing its job, from the first to the last.
“They will always choose the big suppliers; small companies don’t stand a chance.”
Well, there used to be an expression which was used in business in the US for many years: “No one ever got fired for buying from IBM.” This mind set is attributable to some buyers; there is no doubt of this. However, we have seen bids from small, agile, independent or new companies also win major contracts because they articulately argued a compelling value case, offered a convincing cost of ownership model, presented compelling evidence, and were imaginatively presented.
There are many arguments for and against choosing a smaller or recently established supplier but if you are up against the ‘big boys’, never be afraid to take them on.
Make a great case for your nimbleness of approach; that you are unencumbered by unwieldy layers of process and tradition, that you are pragmatic and dependable. Focus on your willingness to always put them first and tell them why you will be better for them. Express the real, quantifiable benefits of dealing with a smaller company.
Demonstrate your leanness, effectiveness and imagination. Small companies will win big accounts by being unafraid to be different and by writing bids that replace some of the mundane with passion, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.
In conclusion, if you ever hear one of these three myths, have your counter-argument ready for deployment. If you want to share your own myths in bid writing, please contribute to the discussion in the comments; we would love to read them!