If you’re like most, bid writing is not a career you’ve heard a lot about. At BiD Masters, we’ve noticed that most people in bids have either stumbled into it, met someone in the industry, or been pulled onto a bid as a sideline to a work role. If you want to know more about what’s involved in bid writing, read this post, but if you want to know whether bid work might be a career option for you, read on to discover which skills and abilities are in the mix for a bid writer.
Very few bids are produced by a single person. The majority of bids involve, as a minimum, a team comprising a bid manager or lead, a bid administrator, subject matter experts (SME), specialised writers, and perhaps a graphics team for formatting and production.
As a bid writer, if you’re working for a company that bids regularly, you’ll likely be moved from one team to another, having to quickly adapt and adjust to different teams. If you’re a contractor, like our team here at BiD Masters, you’re likely to be placed within a team that may have started work before you arrived and will probably have varying levels of experience with bids. You’ll need to be able to integrate into the team and establish ways of working, expectations and lines of reporting, not to mention building rapport with team members. Having all of those soft skills around relationship building and collaboration will set you in good stead.
When it comes down to it, there are two major factors that can influence the win probability of a bid – the price and the quality of the written submission. Given this, having writing skills is a fundamental requirement for a bid writer. The technical content of the bid is likely to be provided by the subject matter experts, but it’s the bid writer’s responsibility to make this often-complex content coherent, logical, and engaging. The latter is perhaps the most difficult – facts are facts, but the ability to present facts as a clear, concise, relevant and interesting solution that solves the end client’s problem is the thing that wins bids. At BiD Masters, several of our bid writers have journalistic backgrounds – and the ability to successfully craft a response.
Shifting from one bid to another often means being able to process new information quickly. Bid writers need to understand what the bid questions are asking, what the solution is, and what the unique selling points are for that solution or the client. They’ll need to be able to grasp concepts quickly and distil technical information into digestible content. Naturally, there are times when the technical content may go beyond the understanding of the bid writer – and in those cases, it will be down to the SME to fact check the material, while the bid writer weaves the story around the details. Basically, though, a bid writer needs to be able to rapidly understand content and restructure and edit it so it flows with relevant, coherent content.
A big part of bid writing is asking “Why?” Looking at the tender questions, a writer needs to know what the question is asking and why. Working with the facts from the SMEs, the writer needs to understand what is important and why. A writer will do well if they have the ability to collect and analyse information, problem-solve, and make or guide decisions within the team.
A high level of attention to detail is an essential quality for a bid writer, particularly if your bid team doesn’t include a proofreader. Attention to detail is more than picking up an errant comma or full stop. It’s about understanding the solution and making sure the overall response, often written by multiple writers and with broad input, is coherent and most importantly, is saying the same thing.
Let’s face it, most bids go down to the wire. Time constraints, page limits and meeting the requirements of multiple stakeholders can take its toll. Successful bid writers work methodically under pressure and are willing to pull out all the stops to complete submission.
As well as managing stress levels, bid writers need to manage their time – and sometimes the time of others – in the face of looming deadlines. This can be difficult when working with large teams, where content may be delivered late or last-minute changes come up – hence the importance of skill #6. A good writer knows how to prioritise and can triage content, making sure the highest scoring elements of the response or those that need the most work are pushed to the front of the queue. Understanding what can be done within the given timeframes and where effort is best spent is essential.
If you’re an aspiring bid writer, speak to BiD Masters about our training programme or click here.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to enhance your team’s bid writing skills, BiD Masters offers bespoke training courses. Click here to enquire.