How to build a better bid

Whether you’re preparing a bid for a competitive process or a detailed proposal for a sole-source arrangement, here are some key fundamentals to keep in mind that will boost your chances of success.

What is a bid proposal?

A bid proposal is a tool used to comprehensively explain the products, services and timeline that a company can provide to potential customers for a particular project or contract notice. Not only does it demonstrate their aptitude and knowledge, it also allows potential clients to assess pricing details so they can make an informed decision on who is more likely to meet their project needs.

What’s in a bid? 

A bid usually has three components, which will often be evaluated separately. 

Technical submission: Your technical submission outlines in detail what services and/or products you will provide, and how you will deliver on the contract. The tender documents will usually specify the information you need to provide and how each item will be weighted in the evaluation.  

Financial submission: Your financial submission indicates what the work will cost and is often one of the most heavily weighted elements of a bid. Be sure to submit all requested information in the format prescribed by the tender documents. 

Certificates: Some contract notices will require you to prove compliance with tax regulations, financial solvency, sustainability, or other criteria. In most cases, your bidding documents should state your compliance with all required certifications, and if you win the bid, you’ll be asked to submit the certificates or other documents as proof. 

Building a better bid: Checklist 

The following recommendations will help set you up for success: 

Do your research

Taking the time to demonstrate your business’s qualifications is imperative when bidding for a major contract. Use any project bid-request information to extract relevant details that support why you are best suited for the opportunity. Carefully refine these details to ensure they meet all the requirements set forth by the project, thus increasing your chances of success.

It is also important to get acquainted with the requesting company’s mission and vision. With this knowledge in hand, you can tailor your response to meet their exact needs for an optimal outcome.

Get the full tender documents 

Some contract notices include basic information to help you decide whether or not to bid but may be missing key details. Before you start preparing your bid, reach out to the contractor to request the full tender documents to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

Get a deeper understanding of the project

Make sure you understand the scope of the project and what the client is trying to achieve. Reading through the bid will provide a lot of background information, but don’t hesitate to ask the contracting organization (client) for additional information. Often, they provide details on how to send inquiries within the bid itself.

Research the client

Research the contracting company to learn more about their challenges and core values. Tailor the language of your bid to show how you meet the needs of the bid and support the client. This will help to impress the client that your firm is best suited for the job.

Get to know the competition

No matter the project, there will likely be other businesses and individuals looking to offer their products and services. By conducting a competitor analysis, you can tailor your bid proposal to show your unique capabilities and why you should win the business.

Prepare the bid

When developing a bid, it is essential to customize your response to showcase how your company would meet the demands of the project. Carefully factor in costs such as materials, labor and timeline needed for completion.

Note that awards are not always given solely based on lowest costs. Often the contracting company is evaluating whether the business is equipped with the resources and experience to meet the criteria.

Review prices diligently and ensure accuracy while delivering valid explanations behind each figure. Also, make sure you specify which services will be discounted or upgraded so that the project owners understand the value being brought by your bid!

Include the basic information

Writing a winning bid proposal requires understanding the particular project and industry, but don’t forget to include fundamental elements like:

  • Contact information of client
  • Contact information of bidding company
  • Job/bid name
  • Purpose of the proposal and project
  • Services or products that would be provided
  • Pricing information
  • Additional terms and conditions of the agreement
  • Estimated project timeline

Including this basic information will help to ensure that your bid remains under consideration.

Provide all requested information in the format specified 

Be sure to read the specifications very carefully and address each one in whatever format is prescribed. Missing information or details that demonstrate a failure to understand the requirements will count against you and may result in your bid being eliminated. 

Prepare for language requirements 

If you’re hoping to secure a contract in a country where English is not the official language, you will likely need to submit your bid in the language of the contracting government. Secure a professional translator early and make sure to leave enough time to have your documents translated before the deadline. 

Highlight additional competencies 

According to Global Affairs Canada’s European Union Government Procurement Guide, indicating any additional competencies you have, such as environmental records or other corporate social responsibility initiatives, can help reinforce the full value your company brings to the project. 

Include terms and conditions

Don’t forget to include information about expectations, general and special conditions or any other information that may affect how you will deliver the project.

Create a good-looking bid

Before submitting a bid, have someone else check for grammar and spelling errors. Ensuring that the wording is clear and succinct will also help to deliver a more polished product.

Finally, depending on the requirements, investing in a graphic designer to ensure that your proposal is visually appealing can impress potential clients and leave a positive impression of your company and brand.

Submit your bid on time 

Many contractors have strict deadlines and will not accept bids even a few minutes late. To avoid being eliminated because of delays or technical difficulties, aim to submit as early as you can. 

Writing a proposal for an international business opportunity isn't easy. We can help.

Get our guide on how to prepare and write a solicitation response so you can win more business.

Where to look for opportunities 

Outside of on-the-ground networking and leveraging relationships with organizations such as CCC and the Trade Commissioner Service, there are many other well-established pipelines to access opportunities. 

Many governments have electronic systems for posting contract notices that you can register with to get updates when new requests are issued. Most exporters are likely already signed up with these. It’s a good practice to periodically evaluate them for relevance to your business and how successful you’ve been. Focus on just the best ones to conserve your resources and maximize your efforts. 

Canada’s Global Bid Opportunity Finder (GBOF) consolidates export opportunities from a number of government sources to make it easier for Canadian businesses looking to expand their international footprint. Not only can Canadians search for opportunities in both official languages, it also saves time with  search and email alert functions. Find out more and register for free at

Get CCC to help

CCC is Canada’s government to government contracting agency. We use our international expertise to help Canadian businesses build successful commercial relationships with foreign national and subnational governments, as well as, state-owned enterprises.

Contact CCC to learn more about how we can help strengthen your next bid or  how we can help you submit a solicited or unsolicited proposal to meet the specific needs of a government buyer.

This post was last updated on May 11, 2023.

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