Deadline-driven tenders, proposals and pitches are not usually ideal environments for producing high quality writing. Many firms are flat out getting together a first draft for hand-in time and the chance to review and revise tender responses can be rare.
In my experience, best practice means at least three tender reviews and drafts are necessary to develop the strongest, most convincing and thorough submission.
By getting together a full draft early, you will have the time to review your tender and craft a truly persuasive case to sell your client on the benefits and value of your offering, and give something that stands out from the competition.
Here’s how JMA prefers to approach tender reviews.
Rock Review – crystallise your tender response
The Rock Review is a broad tender review of your complete first draft.
The aim here is to refine any rocky aspects and crystallise answers to the following:
- Have we properly identified and addressed the requirements of the RFP?
- Are we fully compliant?
- Are the key win themes and selling messages coming through (consistently and clearly)?
- Do we have a compliant and powerful response to each of the mandatory selection criteria?
- Are we addressing the client’s needs and objectives (spoken and unspoken)?
- Does our proposed approach demonstrate added value to the client?
- Where is our case weak? What are the gaps?
- What other evidence do we need to support our case?
- What else can we offer? An alternative proposal?
- Can we use graphics and images to clarify and enhance sections?
Scissors Review – excise and edit the extraneous
Your draft should be fairly complete now, with your evidence clearly set out and key selling messages incorporated.
The Scissors Review should be used to check off everything you flagged in the Rock Review, with a focus on refining the writing and structure:
- Is the content accurate?
- Is the material presented in a logical way?
- Have we eliminated contradictions, ambiguities, redundancies and unnecessary repetition?
- Do we still have gaps?
- What needs to be rewritten?
- Is the overall format and presentation appropriate?
And cut ruthlessly in this second tender review to ensure each word is doing its job – advancing your case in succinct and compelling ways.
Paper Review – wrap it all up tight and persuasively
By this stage, you should have finalised all the relevant sections, prepared the executive summary, and completed a final check to determine whether the proposal specifically addresses the needs of your prospective client.
This final Paper Review should ensure that all recommendations from the Rock and Scissors Reviews have been addressed and incorporated, and that there are no fatal flaws or omissions.
Now is the time to make sure the “packaging” is sharp and professional:
- Have we proofread the tender to check for spelling mistakes, typographical errors and inconsistencies (for example, terminology).
- Is our formatting consistent and professionally presenting our firm?
- Is all content is appropriately cross-referenced throughout the bid, including page numbering, page references, and appendices?
- Have we checked the layout and page breaks, and ensured that styles are applied consistently?
And if you need to submit a hard copy of your tender, print a test version and check that as well.
As you may have guessed, JMA’s “Rock, Scissors, Paper tender reviews” are just another cute name for an organised and systematic approach to the tender review process. Elsewhere, this idea of the power of three tender reviews is known as “traffic light reviews” (red, amber, green) or “bronze, silver, gold reviews”, amongst others.
Whatever your team wants to call it, the main take out when it comes to tender reviews is that bid deadlines create a pressure cooker environment for teams, and three reviews is often unrealistic. So whilst in our experience there is something magical about three tender reviews, if you can manage even two levels of review for key sections you’ll find the quality of your submissions improves and your win rate goes up!
Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques. I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender. […]