Effective managementLeading behavioursPeople & ManagementStrategy & Leadership

Content is still king

Customers are most interested in how you will add value and reduce risk relative to the price. It is therefore a mistake if the things that are most interesting and beneficial to them are buried in your PQQs, tenders and proposals making it difficult for the customer’s evaluators to find them and award marks.

The purpose of a pre-qualification process is to reduce a long list of interested applicants down to a short list of suitably qualified bidders by eliminating those who present the highest risks of not achieving the project objectives. Therefore the emphasis is on risk reduction and your content needs to reflect this.

However, when it comes to the next stage, the contract is normally awarded to the bidder who can demonstrate the greatest value for money for the customer.

So think about where your solutions create value or reduce cost. Don’t hide this content in amongst lots of detail, make it stand out. Make it easy for the evaluators to understand the value added and award top marks. If necessary spell it out and quantify the value created for the customer.

A poorly presented submission will lose you marks but the quality of the content of the material used in your submission is what picks up marks. So get this right!

Features and benefits

It is a mistake to only write about the features of your services and solutions.

Features enable the customer to understand what you are going to deliver but they are more interesting, meaningful and powerful if they are linked to benefits and outcomes that are highly relevant to the specific needs of the customer.

This is critically important when writing bids and proposals because evaluators will award higher marks for benefits and outcomes rather than features and inputs.

One area where I find this more apparent is in case studies. Most case studies which I have read are boring because they just contain an unimaginative photograph, some facts about the contract price, start and finish dates, names of customers and their advisors and a list of services provided.

There is no attempt to capture the attention of the reader with a description of what constraints and risks were managed, how creative solutions were found to resolve problems and more importantly how benefits and value were delivered for the customer.

Perhaps the most persuasive way of articulating this valuable information is in the form of customer testimonials but these are often absent from the case studies I have read. In my opinion, third party testimonials are really powerful, especially if you use a photograph of a happy customer and ask them to concentrate on the benefits and results that they enjoyed from your service or product. Hard tangible facts always work best