An essential part of any bid strategy, a compelling win theme is a key reason why a procurement officer would sign-off the award of the contract.

There are often multiple win themes included within a single bid, each one consisting of:

  • Features (the tangible aspects of the bidder’s product or service, usually measurable and/or demonstrable, that make up the ‘what’ of the bidders offer);
  • Benefits (the impact from a feature of a bidders’ offer in terms of the value provided to the buyer, such as saving time or cost, or improving outcomes and quality), and;
  • Proof points (the referenceable evidence that bidders will use to demonstrate their competency and capacity to deliver the feature, such as project data, case studies, customer quotes and/or testimonials, and awards/recognition earned).

Using the above key components, an example win theme might look like this:

We will commence delivery up to 1 month earlier than required by drawing on our pre-existing staffing resources, all fully qualified. With a staff retention rate of 95% (above the national average of 85%), our quality staffing resources are unlikely to undergo major changes, minimising delivery disruptions. Our selected staff all have experience of over-achieving in delivering similar contracts.

To ensure a win theme’s effectiveness, you should aim to reinforce the theme repeatedly throughout the proposal, whilst not sacrificing responsiveness or compliance. The reason for developing win themes is simple: they result in the development of a more persuasive proposal that will stand a greater chance of winning by providing a clear insight into how the proposal meets/exceeds their requirements, complete with tangible evidence.

To ensure success, you should develop your win themes early in the tendering process using information gathered on the buyer, potential competitors and an objective assessment of your own capability to inform the win strategy. The development process is heavily reliant on the opportunity and capture strategy wherein you must ask yourself:

  • How will you leverage strengths against each of the buyer’s requirements;
  • how will you mitigate any weaknesses you may have in meeting these requirements;
  • how will you exploit competitor weaknesses (opportunities), and;
  • how will you counter competitor strengths (threats).

Asking these questions will lead to the development of tactics for winning which in turn will form the basis for win theme development.

For example, imagine that you are bidding to deliver employability support services which require the provision of specialised staff to support jobseekers to secure sustainable employment. Using the approach above, you have identified that you already employ staff with the relevant experience needed to fulfil the requirement and, through them, can commence delivery earlier than expected. To refine your win theme, it needs proof points that are: persuasive – a higher than average staff retention rate which guarantees that your quality staff are available for the contract duration; tangible – the retention rate is objective and verifiable, providing a clear measure of your capability, and; credible – your capability is relevant and persuasive, without being overstated or questionable.

By applying techniques such as these, you can come up with compelling win themes, which can make a real difference between winning and losing bids.