If you want to win tenders and RFPs more often, it helps to understand where the causes of not winning now lie. How do I increase my chances of winning bids?

Here are the seven most common causes and those with the most significant impact:

1. You exercise no influence over the content of the bid
2. Qualification to join is not stringent enough
3. The process for a response is not well established
4. Not everyone is as good at responding to RFPs
5. Good essential texts and templates are lacking
6. Answering rests on the shoulders of 1 or 2 staff members
7. You don’t invest enough time

1. Influence a bid

Why do you want to influence a bid? You want this for several reasons; here are some examples:

  • You point out essential terms to the customer and give you a competitive advantage.
  • You take care of the process that suits you, such as when the bid is released or how much time it takes to respond.
  • The customer already knows you and has a positive feeling about your company. Conversely, you know the review committee and what they consider essential.

Once a bid is brought to market, you are too late. It’s that simple. Before a company starts writing a bid, they are already making preparations. For example, they read a lot about the services or products, talk to experts about the topic and have meetings about the problem. This is when you already want to be at the table and want the company or organization to read content from you. After all, it shapes their ideas.

Sales’ job is to be at the table with the companies and organizations where this is happening. Because if you can influence the bid, then this increases your chances of winning. There are key triggers for that.

1.Previously answered bids or offers are a good indication. If you extend the contract terms listed then into the future, you know when a new application is most likely to come. Engage with the client well before then. If you don’t have this information, assume the average contract term in your industry.

2.When new leaders take office at the top of a company, they are likely to make changes. This usually takes 9 to 12 months. Don’t get started too early. This manager is still getting to know the company for the first three months. Only after that time do they have insight into the problems at hand.

3.Major changes in the company itself. Consider reorganizations or growth, acquisitions or divestitures. All major changes give a need for improvements. Depending on your added value (cost savings or just more functionality or scalability) guides the trigger.

Of course, these triggers also apply to Sales in general. They are also easy to automate. Have Google Alerts or LinkedIn posts from connections create a task in your CRM.

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2. Strict qualifying affects your chances of winning

Of course, you are more likely to win if you only participate in the bids that suit you. Qualifying well helps you get to focus on whether you should participate. Learn more about qualifying tenders.

But there’s another reason rigorous qualifying helps: it ensures you know where you’re missing something. You can then work on that. For example, you can give multiple options for completing a requirement in your texts. A customer generally appreciates this effort very much.

Qualifying can be learned. It often feels like throwing away sales opportunities when you out-qualify a bid. Remember that a bid takes a lot of time, and you can’t spend that time on other things. A high probability of winning ensures little wasted time.

3. The bid process is not set up (properly)

Every bid is different, but so is the process of arriving at the response. It’s always the exact steps you take. You will lose deals if you don’t have an established process for this. And this is reflected in your odds of winning. It’s that simple.

Read more about the process itself: The process of a bid response

There are two situations: you don’t have a fixed process, or the process doesn’t work well.

1.No standard bid process

Now your sales staff have to figure out how to get the response out the door every time. This takes time, and crucial parts, such as qualification (link), are skipped.

2.The process is not working well enough

Sometimes it is too rudimentary, and parts are missing. Sometimes you do things in the wrong order. And sometimes, it’s something completely different. You can recognize a malfunctioning process by four symptoms:

    • It’s always a race to get the bids out the door on time
    • Overtime is standard; night work is no exception
    • You’re losing bids
    • Your employees don’t want to participate in it

Put your process next to market standards for Bid Management. You can read those here: The process of bid response.

4. Needle in a haystack: a bid manager

Responding to an RFP is a profession. Not for nothing. Do you have bid specialists? You must be good at project management, be able to write, and have a good understanding of the match between supply and demand. Not everyone is good at all these things.

By separating tasks, you utilize talent and need to make fewer concessions. And train these people. There are companies specializing in training Sales people on how to answer tenders. One of the best in this field is https://strategicproposals.nl/. With training, you can quickly increase your odds of winning.

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5. Basic texts and templates

Just as you don’t want to rethink the process every time, you also don’t want to start writing answers continually. It is easier for anyone to adapt texts to a specific client rather than rewriting the story for each client.

Primary texts and templates can be found in previously answered bids and extensive quotes for clients. You can also pick up valuable information from the rest of the organization, such as project plans and descriptions of services.

Get your marketing involved. That way, you create a well-written foundation where branding and tone of voice are already right the first time.

You store all the primary texts in software that can do a minimal search. If you want to do it right, you purchase a tool with a knowledge base that can make intelligent matches between the customer’s question and all available answers. Want to learn more about RFP Software? Stryfes specializes in this. Read our Smart Sales Tools session on this: RFP Software.

6. Dependence on one or two people

If you don’t have a bid manager but have bids to answer, you have to row with the oars you have. See who on your team excels in these areas. And make sure they record and transfer their knowledge and approach. This way, you ensure that the work does not always fall on the shoulders of the same people. So also remember that the most disorganized salesperson should not be doing the project management of a bid. And the most junior employee should not be doing the checking to see if all the customer’s needs have been met.

Match talent and knowledge with tasks in the process. That already saves half of it. Read When a bid manager? to read about when it’s time for a bid manager.

7. You invest too little time

I guess you didn’t want to hear that. Writing winning bids takes a lot of time. Especially also to learn it.

If you make many concessions in the time commitment of crucial people, you lower the odds of winning by tens of percent. The most crucial people in the process are often also the people who are the busiest. That means making choices. Realize that making that choice is a qualifying question for a reason. (read more about qualification: How to qualify a tender).

Exactly how much time people spend varies by query, of course. Ensure you have a keen sense of which employees are crucial to a winning response. Usually, there are a maximum of three. These three must involve qualification, strategy determination, response, and review. Before answering, ask them how much time they think they will need and add 25% time. They need to free up that time.

Indeed, that extra 25% allows them to think carefully about their answers and go further. That provides quality. If they don’t have the time, it’s one item on their to-do list, and you get answers that miss crucial parts you asked in the strategy phase. They are then the dry, straightforward answers. And your client pokes through that.

Then you also have time to work on the bid process. Setting up and establishing the process, establishing templates and standard texts, keeping a tool up to date, and training people. If you do not make time for this, you are not investing enough time in your chances of winning.

How to recognize that you’re not spending enough time:

  • No improvement process around bid management
  • No Post Mortem on lost bids (plus, of course, the action plan to do better)
  • Crucial employees who only answer some questions and are not involved in anything else
  • Overtime
  • No review rounds (not one but two, indeed)


To increase your chances of winning, you must ensure that your bid team can reach maturity. This means they have enough time to go through the bid process, influence the customer, and, most importantly, work smart. Because although Bid management is time-consuming, you can set it up effectively. Do you also want to know if you can set up your Bid Management more effectively? Schedule an appointment with one of our Sales Strategists for a no-obligation assessment.

you are not a techie. Right?
Sales leader – that’s you

But even you know: the battle to win the hearts of your customers happens in the digital field these days. Do you know who wins that battle? The companies that use tech and tools to do their marketing and sales. These are 5x as successful as their analog competitors. No Joke, 5x.

Want to win? We all do.

Choosing, implementing and adopting that tech stack? Nobody wants that. Except for us. At Stryfes, we help companies get more sales in less time. All thanks to sales tools and tech. Is that what you want? If so, please get in touch with us without obligation.

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