How to Win a Best Value Proposal for Construction

First off, this isn’t low bid. Price does matter, but having the low price is not the deciding factor. Anyone off the street can win a low-bid project; it takes a good company to win best value project.

Your first job is to complete the proposal the way they asked. You can’t skip sections unless specified as optional, don’t add extra pages and don’t reorder things. The committee is reviewing dozens of proposals and they’re trying to make it easier to review each proposal fairly. Usually the first round of cuts is mistakes and not following directions. In their minds, if you can’t follow the instructions when you’re chasing work, then you definitely won’t follow directions when you’re on the job. This includes turning in your proposal on time. I like to get my bid in a day early to show them we’re ahead of the game.

Next, you need the right mindset – your prospect’s mindset. What does your prospect care about? Most likely, you have multiple people on a selection committee. You need to know what makes each of them tick including what excites them, what scares them, and possibly if they have any personal agendas. For example, if you’re bidding on a university dormitory, you probably have the university architect along with someone from purchasing, maintenance, and hopefully the student body on the committee. Each of these individuals will have different viewpoints and interests. For example, the maintenance person is looking at ease of maintaining the building, the purchasing agent is looking at the cost over the lifespan of the building while the student is interested in the building’s usage and probably how quickly it will be built since they will only be at the school another year or so.

Look professional. You should have a solid brand identity and look-and-feel – use it. I highly suggest a branded proposal template so you can focus on the proposal’s contents and not sweat how the proposal looks when its crunch time. Don’t skimp on the binder or tabs – it reflects on the quality of your work and cheap binders make you look cheap and/or desperate.

You need to explain your price – how’d you come up with that number? I have a client that traditionally did low-bid work and didn’t understand why they lost a best value proposal when they were 30% lower the rest of the bids. They didn’t explain the cost savings, which was actually their differentiator because they assumed the selection committee already knew that about them. Some committees throw out the high & low bids if they’re 10% away from everyone else almost automatically. Don’t let price be the only way you stand out.

Explain your qualifications, but more importantly how they matter to your prospect. Have you built something similar? Do you have a team that specializes in this type of building? That all matters and makes the selection committee feel more comfortable selecting you when you have similar experience.

Show some personality. This prospect is looking for a team to work side-by-side with for a year or more. They want to like someone; let this be you. If they don’t like your brand personality then they’d probably be a horrible client anyway. Keep in mind, the selection committee is reviewing 5 to 50 proposals and you need to stand out. When they’re done reviewing ALL of them, you want to be remembered. Most likely if they remember you (for the right reasons), you’ll be short-listed with no problem.

Please comment below if you have any questions or additional thoughts on Winning Best Value Proposals.