So, do you want to know how to win a bid?
In the past decade, those who had the lowest bid typically got the job. And while low bids are still critical, today you (the contractor) will be placed on a “Short List” where you will have to sell yourself and sell your company to the potential clients. There’s often more to it than price.
This is usually done through a presentation, so in fact it is a two-stage bid.
There is no foolproof way to win a bid, but there are a few things you can do to increase your win ratio. By using these simple tips, you may be able to increase your chance of getting the job significantly.
How To Win A Bid: Do Your Research
Know your listener. Never go into a presentation with a standard, generic proposal. Each buyer is different, and each buyer will have different priorities in choosing a contractor. Remember, no matter what the buyer tells you AFTER the presentation, price is almost never the reason they didn’t choose you. The reason that buyers tell us this is that they usually have no other means to make a decision.
Let’s say you are writing a proposal for a school district. The buyer, the person making the ultimate decision (that is usually only one person, even though it may to appear to be a committee,) has a list of priorities that will influence the decision. This will be different for different people, let’s assume that this particular buyer is primarily interested in the job finishing (1) on time, (2) the safety of the children, (3) the aesthetics of the building, and finally, (4) price – in that order.
If this buyer views three different proposals all indicating the same things, “We are the best at finishing on time. Safety is our priority. Look at how beautiful our buildings look.” Then the only criteria left to make a decision and that is price.
If any of the bid presenters in the above example could have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were indeed the best at any one of those things, then that bid would have easily made it to the top of the “Short List.”
Specific Evidence Stands Out
Specific evidence that indicates you can do what your buyer wants will set you apart. Evidence could be pictures, testimonials, exhibits, quotes, trade journal articles, and many other forms. The more compelling the evidence, the more easily it will be remembered and for the buyer to make their decision. One of my clients photocopied over 20 letters of recent recommendation and delivered a set to each of the committee members at the conclusion of his presentation. He was the only one who bothered to offer evidence of competence and experience. Yes, he got the job.
How do we know what the buyer’s decision priority is? ASK THEM. Call up or visit the people you will present to and ask them about their priorities. Most of the time, they will tell you in great detail and will be flattered that you have taken the time to get to know them. Find out what, other than price, is most important and why. Make notes and then accumulate evidence that supports how you can do what they want. Sometimes you will not be able to speak to them directly, so use the web, look at their website or annual publication on the web, read it learn about their values, priorities and any special interest they may have.
The Vital Presentation
It is neither right nor wrong, but it is a fact of life, that many people form an impression of how competent you are in the first few seconds when they meet you. Are you nervous? Do you present yourself in a confident, professional manner? Your confidence when you present is vital to winning over your audience to your way of thinking.
The buyers want to get to know the people they will be working with. They want to know if they can trust the contractor. The contractor who can present confidently and build trust and rapport with the audience has a great shot at getting to the top of the “Short List.”
Presenters who have received professional bid coaching and presentation skills have a distinct advantage over those who have not. The more you become a confident presenter who has a clear understanding of the buyer’s priorities and communicates that well, the more you’ll show you know how to win a bid.