3 Common Reasons for Losing a Bid

In the lucrative world of government contracting, you may find yourself losing a bid with no certainty of why it happened. While there may be several reasons for a bid loss, it’s important to understand what went wrong in the past so that you can prepare yourself for the future. After all, mistakes are the secret to success.

In this article, we take a look at three common reasons for losing a bid, along with steps you can take to avoid it.

Compliance, Compliance, Compliance

One of the most common reasons for a loss is non-compliance, and with complex proposal instructions, it is easy to make costly mistakes. Non-compliance is the easiest mistake that can be avoided when submitting proposals. Take your time to understand the proposal instructions — quite literally. Start with a compliant proposal outline and include specific writing guidelines that serve as guardrails for compliance. Consider hiring an independent content reviewer to give your proposal an unbiased look — not just for compliance but also for responsiveness to the requirements.

Past Performance (or lack thereof)

The world of contracting — government or commercial — can be incredibly challenging for newcomers. Every bid requires some demonstration of experience. Did you know you can use personal executive experience as past performance on most proposals? You can also leverage your company’s commercial past performances. When it comes to past performance, especially in government contracting, start as a subcontractor. Subcontracting allows you to learn the ropes while building up a steady corporate past performance track record.


Do you find yourself scratching your skull and wondering how the winning bidder can manage working at such low prices? A balance between profitability and competitiveness is a challenge in every industry, and even more so in government contracting. You need to know what your competitors’ rates are and where to find this data. What you see is not what is bid. Work with experts who have industry knowledge and experience to help you interpret market and competitive rates to build a competitive price proposal.

ProposalHelper is the largest employee-only bid and proposal management company supporting government contractors in the United States. ProposalHelper helps companies worldwide enter, expand, and grow their business in the public and commercial sectors across almost every industry vertical.

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