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The pitfalls of word blindness in tender writing

It doesn’t always follow in the world of bid writing that the more experience a proposal writer has, the better their copy will be. As with any industry, familiarity can breed contempt, and over-exposure to our craft can make even the most talented and resourceful bid writers pick up a few bad habits as they continue with their trade.

Bid writers face large amounts of work, every day. From generating copy as part of the bid management process, right through to trawling through boilerplate to optimise it, the average proposal writer has to cram a large amount of work and word generation in to each day that they work on any given bid. While all experience is positive in the world of bid writing, this can lead to a common condition with experts in the tender writing industry – word blindness.

If you have ever sat in front of your computer screen and stared at the reams of copy filling pages of a document, you will probably be familiar with word blindness. This is the state which arises when you simply can’t find an objective view of the proposal writing, and it feels as if someone else has filled the pages, responding to questions, while your brain was engaged elsewhere. The document becomes suddenly impenetrable, making it impossible to evaluate with an unbiased eye. If you look at a paragraph, the words are impossible to weigh up for compliance, and at times it can seem as if they were written in a foreign language which tender writers have never encountered before.

While this is both normal and accepted as part of the overall bid writing process, many proposal writers panic and try to continue on with the document being written, in a vain attempt to complete the bid. However, this is not the best tactic for stressed proposal writers. The following tips will help you to counter word blindness, leaving you refreshed and ready to get on with proposal writing once again…

Take time out
This may seem like a contradictory piece of advice, but sometimes the more stressed the bid writer is, the more time they need to take away from the document. Walking away, going to lunch, stretching or grabbing a coffee can leave some distance between you and the bid, so you can come upon it with fresh eyes upon your return.

Ask for assistance
Asking for an objective eye can be invaluable in the evaluation process. Ask a handy bid manager or fellow writer to review your work, supporting you to take a new view of the bid writing.

Try a new approach to bid writing
If your current approach to the proposal writing process isn’t working, try something different. Instead of using boilerplate, start from scratch. Visit the tender document for inspiration, review past bids or read up on the latest bid writing best practice to renew your overall approach and start again.

Consider the document from the evaluator’s perspective
It can be tough, but if the proposal writer sees things from the perspective of compliance, they can then cut out irrelevant copy and make sure that their words are all valid and answer the questions appropriately.

Focus upon a different activity
If the bid writing really isn’t going well, walk away from it. Take a day off, do some filing, or undertake any other activity which releases you from the tender writing process for a while. This is an investment of your time, leaving you ready to resume the writing process once your brain has had chance to gain some distance from the copy and renewed your enthusiasm for the task in hand.

Bid And Tender Writing FAQs

Uniting the bid and sales team in bid writing

In any organisation, it makes sense for the Sales and Bid teams to work closely together in order to establish what the client is looking for. However, there is often a huge disparity in activities between the teams, and even a form of rivalry whereby each team aims to be independent from the other in some respects.

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Understanding knowledge management in bid writing

In any organisation, there is a wealth of information being passed around, shared, utilised or archived, every day. Each team within a company has a specific specialism, and the people who work within the team are experts in their particular niche of the organisation’s overall function. This means that on any given day, thousands of words, images and concepts are bandied around, to be picked up by people and used, or simply filed away for future reference.

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The pitfalls of word blindness in tender writing

It doesn’t always follow in the world of bid writing that the more experience a proposal writer has, the better their copy will be. As with any industry, familiarity can breed contempt, and over-exposure to our craft can make even the most talented and resourceful bid writers pick up a few bad habits as they continue with their trade.

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The bid writing guide to risk identification

As bid writers, we are often required to consider the element of risk which any proposal we produce contains. Risk management is the strategy a company uses to identify, contain and mitigate any potential risks which could threaten the successful delivery of a proposed solution, hunting out the embedded risks within the proposition and working out how to deal with them.

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Tender writing: How to stay healthy

With late nights, early mornings, working weekends and tight deadlines, even the most resilient bid writer can find themselves feeling anxious, prone to infection or suffering with work-related stress. The industry of proposal writing is renowned for being a high-pressure environment, and it’s important to stay on track of mental and physical health when things become chaotic in the office, and deadlines loom.

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Taking time to celebrate winning tenders

If you work in a busy proposal team, the chances are that you are rushed from one project to the next, rarely having the chance to pause before the next bid looms large, with all its demands, complexities and tight deadlines.

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Submitting your bid writing to a deadline

Let’s be honest. Which bid writers haven’t found ourselves up against the wall, timewise, when it comes to getting a proposal document to the customer on time? With the best possible preparation, anticipation of risks and milestone mapping, we all of us have times as bid managers when we are forced to go all out to deliver a compliant bid at the last minute.

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Punctuation hiccups in tender writing

Have you ever been abroad, and been in stitches over some of the unconventional uses of grammar which grace many of the menus and signposts? Proposal writers often have a keen eye for picking up on the small mistakes which many people may gloss over or not register, and having an eye for these errors can support bid writing, as having the kind of brain which detects small mistakes can be invaluable in the bid writer’s proofing process.

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Proposal preparation in tender writing

The bid management process can either be fraught with tension or a streamlined and effective system which supports the bid manager and proposal writer to create bids of a high quality. As each bid request comes in, the proposal writer has a set list of tasks to undertake in order to ensure the quality and compliance of each bid.

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Perfecting retention proposals in bid writing

Many people approach bid writing to retain existing contracts  as a simple exercise which involves a few ticks in the right boxes and the re-submittal of a previous proposal. After all, you won it the first time, right? Now your position is strengthened further by your having an outstanding relationship with your customer, so you don’t have to do too much to secure a continuation of a contract.

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Mirroring client language in bid writing

As children, we learn through repetition, emulating adult language and weaving new words in to our vocabulary in order to broaden our world view. As adult proposal writers with a strong command of the English language, we understand that there are a myriad different ways of saying most things, and find a path through the dual nature of language in order to select words which best encompass our thinking, and put our point across in a clear and concise manner.

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Managing stress in bid writing jobs

There’s no question but that bid writers can have a tough time when it comes to achieving a good work/life balance. With the strict deadlines and large workloads which the proposal writing environment brings to bid professionals, it’s unsurprising that bid writers at times can feel overwhelmed by the amount of pressure heaped upon them to deliver on time, to a great quality.

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Making the most of quiet times in tender writing

Regardless of how busy an average bid team is, and how many proposals they have passing through the department at any given time, the chances are every bid writing area gets the opportunity to pause in the proceedings for some much-needed downtime every now and again. Seasonal shifts in supply and demand, public holidays and trends in sickness mean that even the most productive bid writing team will get the occasional quiet period.

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Introducing a new tender writer to your team

Bid teams are tightly-knit communities, often seeming like a small world within the bigger business environment. Competitive challenges, strict deadlines and a niche industry can all bring bid writers and bid managers close together, joined in a mutual effort to win more business and secure ever more lucrative deals for their company. Often, in a regular organisation, the bid team can seem somewhat alien to the rest of the firm, as what proposal writers actually do seems to be a mysterious and misunderstood process.

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How to boost morale in the tender writing team

Tender writing. It’s a rewarding, demanding and sometimes stressful job, and the entire bid team need to pull together to work at optimum and ensure a good result when the stakes are high. Companies who have a sound team which work well together are able to achieve near-miracles when it comes to securing wins on important bids, and tender writing can be greatly enhanced by a healthy dose of high morale within the bid team.

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Facilitation skills in bid writing

The majority of meetings tend to be mildly ineffective, with too much time spent on unrelated activities which don’t develop the business, and a number of people all clamouring to be heard. The world of bid writing is no exception. Even the most streamlined and efficient bid writers can find themselves struggling to use meeting time effectively, when faced with a gaggle of enthusiastic fellow proposal writers and an errant bid manager or two.

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Executive Summaries versus Abstracts in bid writing

Often when bid writers approach a new proposition, we are asked to produce different variations upon a similar theme. While some organisations prefer us to use a standard template for bid responses, others are happy to leave us to our own devices, using our initiative in order to produce a compelling bid document.

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Escalating issues in tender writing

No matter how hard the bid writer, tender writer or proposal writer works to build strong relationships across their organisation, sometimes issues arise which simply can’t be resolved through the usual means. There are a number of common problems which all bid writing experts have to contend with, and the demands and rigour of the overall bid management process can only do so much to mitigate these potential issues as they arise.

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Engaging the HR team, in bid writing

When we consider the role of the bid writer and manager, the most common stakeholders which spring to mind are the Sales team within our organisations. Sales and Proposal teams have a long-standing relationship which stems from the requirement to liaise with the Sales team in order to identify new opportunities, and the two teams are often combined within corporations in order to enhance the working relationship and make it easier for proposals to be developed with a close understanding of what the customer is looking for.

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Bid writing fundamentals

Seasoned bid writers have a great command of language, and usually come from a strong academic background. Far from being an asset, however, spending time in academia can actually impede the bid writing process, as writers who have attended university tend to favour a wide vocabulary which is peppered with words to obfuscate meaning!

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Bid writing burn-out

You know the feeling – you have eight bids on the go, all due by the end of the week. Cold coffee is the main thing you can sense, other than the extreme exhaustion that renders you almost incapable of making decisions. You can’t remember when you saw your family last, and all they have seen of you over the past few weeks is a snappy, exhausted person who comes through the door late at night, kicks off their shoes and grabs some sleep before heading back to the office for six a.m.

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Achieving contract renewal in bid writing

When your organisation has been established as the preferred service provider with a key contract for a while, the chances are that you will, at some point, be invited to bid again to secure ongoing work. Organisations have a number of reasons for putting out invitations to tender for ongoing work, even if your contract with the firm has proven to be satisfactory and offered them the ideal solution.

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A quick guide to the tender writing process

There is much more to tender writing than simply producing a well-written and clear document. Establishing what your potential customer is looking for, and planning the ideal solution to meet their needs is as important, if not more critical, than the act of drafting out your written response to the invitation to tender.
The following tips are designed to support you in planning your tender writing process, to give you the best possible opportunity to sell your products or services to your potential customer.

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How do I make my bids sound more positive?

The bid writing process is governed by a number of distinct rules, which formulate best practice for practitioners. While there are a number of ‘givens’ when it comes to producing the best possible tender documents for compliance, there are also a series of small things which inexperienced bid writers do, which can influence the evaluator in a negative way, unwittingly.

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Is the simplest answer the best answer?

Picture the scene. You’re in a shop, looking for some advice about when a certain item will be back in stock. You approach an eager assistant and ask them how long it will take for the stock to be replaced. The assistant begins to speak, regaling you with friendly information. They had the stock last week, but then a sudden snowfall stopped the delivery.

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Should I use graphics in my bid document?

When we were children, our eyes were inevitably drawn to books with pictures in them in preference to large chunks of text. The human brain is wired to be receptive colour, form and shape, meaning that we never quite lose the instant attraction to images, even as adults. This means that graphics should form an integral part of the bid writing process, as even the most stringent evaluator will find a document which utilises images effectively more appealing than one which is text-heavy.

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What are the prerequisites for successfully bidding

Bid writing calls for a number of factors to be in place before the busy proposal writer can actually sit down and produce outstanding copy to win bids for their company. A strong level of support from stakeholders, a sound understanding of what needs to be articulated, and a firm grasp of the proposition and requirements are all fundamental. However, there is another requirement for the effective production of copy, which is often neglected by bid writers – space.

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Is bid writing as simple as it seems?

Most professional freelance proposal writers have probably come across a situation where their value is questioned when they approach an organisation. The scenario usually begins with someone asking what a proposal writer actually does, and then progresses to questioning the rates which are charged, and finally the sceptic can turn around and suggest that the bid writing process is simple – it’s just a matter of answering questions, and compiling pre-written content in some sort of logical order to answer a bid compliantly.

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How do i find out who won the tender?

In bid writing, much of the activity which we undertake tends to be very much focused in the present. We ‘fire-fight’ from bid to bid each day, and proposal writers rarely have the opportunity to lift our heads above the proverbial parapet and see what is going on in terms of win rates and secured contracts. This constant flurry of activity for the bid manager and bid writer is usual in the bid management process, but can sometimes make it tough to gain insight in to our overall success as bid writers.

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