Every question that’s asked in a tender document will contain more than one layer, that is, several questions within the question. Look for the layers and you will produce more compliant answers and also get better results. In a session with my Master Class group this morning, we were talking about content planning for tender responses. This is a very important topic, but often one that people struggle to get their heads around.
When we're on a deadline and there's a lot of work to do, it is very tempting to jump straight into writing, but in fact, this is never going to give you the best result.
Planning is the essential step between creating your bid strategy and executing it through what you write in your proposal. But even the word “planning” sounds as much fun as getting a root canal. It feels like it will slow us down and stop the momentum and the flow of ideas.
However, I look at planning somewhat differently. When I plan proposal content with teams, I find that it actually gives a really laser sharp focus to what we’re about to do.
It’s a bit like flying a plane. If bid strategy work is the preparation for take-off, and writing is cruising at altitude, then planning what happens just after take-off when the flight is still ahead of us. Many things are possible, but many things could still go wrong. Planning gives us an opportunity to see them, and work out the bumps before they throw us off course.
Often in our haste to get a bid done by the deadline, we compile proposals rather than write them. We think: “okay, here's a question about quality assurance. I'm just going to copy paste my standard answer about quality assurance in here.” But questions are rarely asked exactly the same way each time. So take the time to identify the layers in the question that your answer needs to cover. And think of your standard content from past proposals as a reference library, not the finished answer.