Preparing for and writing a bid proposal can be a long and stressful time for many business owners looking to enter the world of government contracting. With so many details and usually a several people involved in the process it’s easy to make a mistake or two along the way. Here are is a list of some things you should avoid when writing and submitting your proposal, as well as easy fixes to keep your bid from the rejection pile.
What Not to Do: Refuse to list information in its proper place within the bid proposal. Though it may not make much sense to you, bid packages are ordered specifically in a way that makes sense to the government buyer. Put yourself in the evaluator’s shoes for a moment and imagine having to review hundreds of proposals each day – it’s certainly easier to expect to find a specific piece of information in the same place in each of these proposals. You don’t want to send the evaluator on a scavenger hunt, forcing them to flip back forth to find an answer he or she expected to find on page 5.
What to Do Instead: Stay ordered and follow the bid package’s format exactly – no matter how little sense it may make to you. Don’t stray from answering every question and filling out every response as it’s required, even if you feel you may have been repeating yourself.
What Not to Do: Make mathematical mistakes or provide inaccurate price estimates. Whether you are trying to underbid your competition or have inaccurately presented cost estimates, you’ll have to provide evidence of the prices you claim it will cost to deliver your products or services. Nothing will annoy an evaluator more than needing to double-check your math because “something” – a line item, delivery charge, a subtotal, wages, etc. – seems off.
What to Do Instead: First of all don’t exaggerate your value savings without providing concrete evidence to back up your claims. Double check your calculations to ensure that your numbers are accurate and reconcile at every point of your proposal. It’s recommended that you have at least two people independently check the math for accuracy.
What Not to Do: Omit information. This should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many people simply forget to or purposely omit required information. Even if you feel your business does not have experience in an area or has repeated itself somehow, missing even a single piece of data can result in your bid being rejected.
What to Do Instead: Again, it’s best to spend the time to double check, if not triple check, everything in your proposal. If possible have multiple sets of eyes do a read through to ensure that you are ready to sign off. It might be in your best interest to enlist the help from someone outside of the proposal team to get a fresh perspective and play the part of the evaluator.
What Not to Do: Miss the deadline. Don’t be one of the dozens of vendors who scramble in those last few hours only to unfortunately miss the deadline completely (whether by deliver or by e-procurement). Not setting aside ample time could also keep vendors from effectively filling out each section and puts them at risk of missing vital pieces of information regarding submission rules.
What to Do Instead: Don’t wait until the last moment to send your bid proposal. Make sure you have enough time to account for the unexpected delays (copy machine jams, mail delivery delays, etc.) as well as allow you the opportunity to sleep on a bid in case you experience a revelatory moment in the middle of the night instructing you to make a slight change or remind you that a required document is missing. Prepare a bid preparation calendar with several deadlines to ensure your proposal team stays on track throughout every stage of the bid writing process.
If your bid is rejected don’t be afraid to ask the contracting officer or program manager for feedback. You can also benefit from taking time to review and make notes on the winning proposal as soon as it is made public. Both of these activities give you insight toward the steps you need to take to improve your chances on winning the next bid opportunity.
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