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You say your product or service has some amazing features. So What?

In bid writing terms, do you know the difference between a ‘Feature’ and a ‘Benefit’?

Not all bid writers do. In a lot of cases the difference between scoring well and not scoring well in a government tender process can be down to the writer’s confusion over what the evaluator wants to know and what the bid writer wants the evaluator to know.

Poor bid writing can be recognised in the aimless lists of features of someone’s offering – long lists of technical features that are the life and soul of their company, but to anybody outside of their company they don’t really mean a lot. The ineffective bid writer lives and breathes by the ‘features’ of their product or service, whereas the evaluator wants to know what benefit the features will deliver.

Here are some definitions:

A feature is a characteristic of a product or service. The client may or may not value it. For example:

‘We are ISO accredited’
‘We have 3000 staff located in London’
‘Our product is streamlined to perfection’
‘The pen is gold’

A benefit is how your product or service makes someone’s life better in a way that they will value. Such as:

‘Save money’
‘Improve productivity’
‘Increase profit’
‘Get promoted’
‘Increase jobs’

When bid writers talk about features, the predominant words tend to be ‘we’ and ‘our’, whereas when they talk about benefits these predominant words are ‘you’ and ‘your’.

Of course, the examples given above are quite simplistic, devised to highlight the point but, as a bid writer, a key way of ensuring your statements are benefit-driven rather than feature-driven is to challenge yourselves with the ‘SO WHAT?’ question.

For example:
Feature: ‘We have 3000 staff located in London’.
Benefit: ‘Which allows for easy access to our knowledge and support, meaning your downtime will be less and productivity will be greater’.

Once you start to move your bid writing into a proactive, outward-looking and benefit-driven exercise rather than a reactive, inward and feature-driven one, the higher your win-rate will become.

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