How to decide if you should write that pitch - a checklist

Published on: 29th September 2017

From construction to creative businesses to management consulting, deciding which bids to work on and put forward can be a business critical decision. When servicing the private sector, it may take days of effort to get your pitch right, and longer still if supplying to the government!

As a small business, you can't afford to invest continuously in bids which have a low chance of success, but nor can you afford not to put together proposals at all.

So are there any criteria we can look at that might help assess the areas to focus on and the chances of success of your bids? We've pulled together a check-list below:

Competitive Advantage

  1. Do you have a strong delivery track record in the area? ("We've done it before... many times")
  2. Can you demonstrate the value of your past work?
  3. Can you provide credible references?
  4. Do you know the likely competition?
  5. Can you differentiate your proposition against competition - e.g. proven methodology, thought leadership, team capability, experience?
  6. Do you have an insight into the client's hot topics? (so you can customise your messages to the key issues and drivers of change in their environment - speaking in a client's language is of significant value)
  7. Do you have an insight into the client's organisation? (so you can tailor your proposed approach to maximise the chances of successfully completing the work - a 'bespoke' approach is always valued by clients)

Access and Information

  1. Can you get early knowledge of new opportunities through your existing relationships?
  2. Can your contacts give you advice on your chances of success and / or feedback on proposals?
  3. Do you know who the decision-makers are and what process will be used to decide?


  1. If it is necessary, are you on a list of pre-qualified companies? (e.g. preferred providers)


  1. Can you pull the team together to write the proposal?
  2. Do you have delivery capacity to start at the right time?
  3. Are you able to name and describe individuals in your proposal? 


  1. Do you have any intelligence on client price expectations?
  2. Can you prove value for money? (not the same as a low price!)
  3. Are you able to offer flexibility on pricing, if required ? (e.g. payment by results)
  4. Do you know the other selection criteria and their relative weightings?

Value Building

  1. Will the proposal/bid have value beyond this cycle? (e.g. by building intellectual property for future bids)

We'd suggest you go through a process of ranking the importance of the various criteria for your business and sector. Ultimately, the objective is to get a measure of the 'winnability' of a bid, so you can assess the potential reward versus the effort.

We'll post again shortly about how scoring the relative attractiveness of bids needs to be harnessed into an overall process for managing your business pipeline.

Worth noting in the meantime that on going through this exercise, the result is that many or all potential bids end up with a low 'winnability'... that says something about your value proposition or capability of delivery, in which case the check-list above has a secondary purpose - it can point to areas to focus on improving your 'right to win.'


PYXI CRM Team: 29th Sep 2017 09:00:00