Written by Perryn Olson, President & COO of Brand Constructors

Even if the prospective client TOLD you it was because of price, that isn’t the reason. You lost the work because you did not explain your value. Most likely, all the potential bids looked and sounded the same, leaving price as the only differentiator. By blending in with all of your competitors, you gave them no choice but to pick the cheapest option.

Here are five ways to LOSE a best value bid:

1. Break the Rules – Yes, construction companies do this all the time, and sometimes for good reasons (in their mind), like when the RFP is illogical. However, breaking the rules is a death wish, because the RFP is your first test in following directions. Keep in mind that the selection committee may be reading 10 to 50 proposals per project, and consistency is important because it makes their job easier. With that many proposals to review, they are looking for reasons to throw some bids out–especially ones that exceed the page count.

2. No Relevant Experience – When in doubt, put yourselves in the shoes of the client! They are spending millions of dollars on the project in question, so there is no room for screw-ups– they want a sure thing. Selection committees are looking for someone that has successfully completed similar projects and can lead them through the process, because most likely, they've never done this before. You may need to connect the dots in order to adequately prove that your multi-family and hospitality experience is actually related to a dormitory they want to build.

3. Make It Hard to Read – Construction proposals don’t need to be glamorous, but they definitely need to be easy to read. Otherwise, it subconsciously gives the selection committee the impression that you’re difficult to work with. Stay away from complicated graphics or lots of bold capitalized letters, and don’t run your text 8” across the page unless you want your proposal to scream, “Don’t read me!”

4. No Differentiation – Remember, you are not the only construction company bidding on this project, so you can’t go into it as though your proposal is the only one the selection committee is reading. Think about what makes your company unique, whether it is your experience, delivery methods, or even your specialized equipment – then tell them about it. If there isn't a clear-cut reason for them to pick you over the others, then why are you even bidding on this job?

5. No Soul – Besides differentiating your company, you need to portray your true brand personality. You want the selection committee to see your company’s culture and image as being a good fit with their own. Cultures clashing leads to finger-pointing, resulting in a bad experience all around. Weed out the clients that just don’t “get it” by connecting with the clients that do.

 When you’re going through your Go/No Go procedure, you should evaluate whether your company’s culture is a match with that of the prospective client, if the project really gives you the opportunity to differentiate your company and stand out, and if you have the relevant experience to win the job. If it isn’t an obvious win for you, then you probably shouldn’t be going after it. When crafting your proposal, your goal should be to make the selection committee feel that you are the only choice for them. 

Perryn Olson, president and COO of ABC member, Brand Constructors, holds the designation of Certified Construction Marketing Professional (CCMP) from the Construction Marketing Association and the Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM) from the Society of Marketing Professional Services). He currently serves on the board of SMPS Southeast Louisiana and is the past president of Executive Connections, a business networking organization in New Orleans.