The Golden Rules of Bidding

Why would the most high potential supplier turn down the opportunity to participate in the bid?  I had a multi-million dollar global contract and the company we identified as the most promising supplier declined to participate.  Why?  Because they understood the bidding process and the total cost to participate.

Bidding’s Golden Rules by Emma Jaques offers the reader valuable insight to the bid process.   She demonstrates that developing a worthwhile bid is time-consuming and expensive.  She advises suppliers to avoid stepping into a competitive bid process designed just to squeeze cost reduction from the existing supplier.

Here are Emma’s Bidding Golden Rules:

  1. Look for opportunity – This requires energy and an open mind.
  2. Don’t bid for everything – Be selective about your choices.
  3. See things from the buyers’ perspective – focus on their priorities, not yours.
  4. Prepare your bid theme and executive summary first – This sharpens your thinking about the overall project.
  5. Look for showstoppers – Failure to address them goes ill.
  6. Answer all the questions – Be obsessive about detail in your proposal.
  7. Answer the questions the buyer is actually asking – Be a detective.
  8. Engage, influence and persuade – Develop and exploit buyer personnel contracts.
  9. Ascertain your price and know its value – Be upfront with realistic price.
  10. Follow the buyer’s rules – Go along or you won’t get along.
  11. Use case studies – If you have experience, show it.
  12. Be organized – Stay on top of bid-writing personnel and tasks.
  13. Learn and improve – Analyze your experience with wins and losses.


A successful bid opens doors to a long-term relationship.  Pay attention to all the steps that come before and after submitting a bid.  For more detailed discussion consider Emma’s book which includes tables, charts, tips and rules.

You might be wondering “what was the result of my multi-million dollar global contract?”  We learned a valuable lesson as buyers about the value of fair and competitive bidding.  We took extra time to ensure participants this was not a game designed to squeeze the existing supplier.  In the end, that reluctant high potential candidate was the best fit and won the contract.  A big win for both of us.