Musing on AI’s place in bid writing

AI is such a quick writer, compared to most humans, that I wondered whether bid writers, should be using AI to draft some of their clients’ bid responses. Could AI be helpful for those questions we regularly see being repeated within bids?

I decided to put it to the test and had a go! I asked ChatGPT to write a response on account management for a cleaning company bidding to a school.

What did I find? Well, it was interesting! Whilst AI seemed like a quick way to rattle off a few generic bid answers, which were reasonably standard. After testing it I was not confident that using AI would save time in the long run. It created a similar result to when clients copy and paste an answer from a past bid response, or other document or website, ‘to save time’ when sending me key information requested for a bid.


The writing process

It’s almost never quicker for a good bid writer to start with the past response or content and then edit it. For me, it’s quicker, and provides more targeted content, when I write from scratch, using ideas or evidence as inspiration and prompts.

When crafting and developing a bid response, sounding generic is not the aim and unfortunately, AI risks responses being very generic. To produce highly-specific responses using AI, detail and focused direction is needed to ensure that the response communicates confidence and carries weight, through detailed and relevant evidence.

The person using the tool has to know exactly what the bidder wants to say (and of course, already know details and information about the company they are writing for). Writing responses likely includes communicating the company’s values and approach, as well as past experience and knowledge of a Buyer’s goals. This must all be tailored to the opportunity, referring to the Buyer’s particular needs, and adding evidence as you go. Inputting this level of detail into an AI tool raises IP, trade secret and data protection challenges (we recommend you don’t put that kind of information into ChatGPT!).


Creating relevant bid specific content

Bid writers know that the Buyer’s procurement team will be reading similar responses across the procurement exercise. The bid must be written in formal language, whilst also reflecting the company’s tone of voice: mindful of the contractual nature of the documentation, whilst also injecting some personality.

Good bid writers bring to life the essence of the company (in black and white on a page!), whilst also appropriately responding to the questions it has been asked. There are ways that an AI tool could supporting bid writing in a business, however, it’s likely that whatever tool you use will still need senior or experienced individuals who know the company inside and out. AI will make mistakes and assumptions and will not be able to make the response stand out without specific direction.

Each bid is different and each response requires a level of creative thought and planning that combines the information needed to ensure that all points are covered, the word count is not exceeded, it includes the existing knowledge about the Buyer and their requirements; as well as the evidence to back up their claims. All this needs to be balanced against the content planned for the other responses and the bid as a whole. The instructions to the AI tool will need to cover all the elements of the plan to ensure it covers all the points that the company needs to make. The tool may help you write faster but the creative thought process, the planning and ensuring that each point is evidenced will still have to be done by a person.

For me, as a bid writer, to use an AI tool in this way would be time-consuming. Not from what it spits out (a telling use of a verb!), but from inputting the information in the first place. For the type of clients Tender Victory typically works with, inputting information into an AI tool could be a challenge. Not only because my interpersonal, intuitive and client management skills are great, but because I often also have an existing relationship with that client. I know them well. They’ve told me little details about what they do and how they do it.

However, particularly for smaller businesses, much of what I write isn’t documented (or at least not yet). It’s the small details they tell me over the phone, when they are sitting outside in their van before they go to their next client job, or when they’ve just come out of a meeting with a client and the issue is on their mind. Those details are part of the overall information I absorb, turn over in my mind and often may only add in as a short paragraph or an additional piece of evidence in the final version. This approach requires patience, active listening and an understanding of what questions need to be asked to glean the right details to go into the bid. This isn’t something an AI tool can do.



At Tender Victory, we appreciate that (in the majority of cases) bids are evaluated by humans, seeking the best solution for their organisation. We therefore ensure that humans write bid submissions, that offer the best solutions, to ensure genuine connection with the evaluators, through the bid.

Tender Victory’s approach is to build a relationship with clients, requesting, mining and teasing out the information we need to make the best bid we can for them. We plan each answer based on the unique combination of information that’s required for the best response, ensuring we include all the little details that our clients sometimes don’t know they need within their bids. Whilst AI might be slightly(!) quicker at creating an answer with some structure and in as much quantity as needed, we know that it’s the quality of the writing that makes the difference.

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