ISBP® – Better Customer Focus in Four Letters

By Nigel Dennis, CPP APMP Fellow

ISBP® - "Better Customer Focus in Four Letters" overlayed on image of hands with fingers framed to find focus.

This quick win helps with what is arguably the largest problem in bids – lack of customer-focused writing. It is a technique captured by just four letters. Even those companies that believe they already have customer-focused bids are amazed when they learn and apply this tender writing technique.

The technique is called ISBP® and is an acronym explained as follows.

What is ISBP®?

  1. ISSUE (for your customer)
    What really matters to your customer?
    What problem is your customer trying to solve? What are their key drivers? Get behind the words written in the customer request and to the heart of what they (not you) believe will really make a difference. If you do not know what matters, how can you provide the best solution? Then articulate the issue in your own words so that your customer knows you understand it.
  2. SOLUTION (by you)
    How will you address your customer’s issue?
    Write in terms of what will directly solve the issue, not what is convenient for you. Describe how your solution directly addresses the issue.  Poorly written bids give a boilerplate answer based on what is good for your organisation and not what is good for your customer’s organisation. This is a sure way to scoring low.
  3. BENEFIT (for your customer)
    Highlight the benefit that your customer will receive from your issue-driven solution.
    A benefit is what the customer will get from your solution. It is their outcome. Don’t assume it is obvious and don’t assume your customer will know. And don’t get a benefit mixed up with a feature. For example: power steering on a car is the feature; easier parking is the benefit.
  4. PROOF (by you)
    Prove that the benefit of your solution will really solve your customer’s issue.
    Demonstrate how you have used this solution before. Provide the evidence. State previous contract successes, give examples or case studies, or provide third party references. These will all provide a feeling of comfort for your customer and show your organisation is credible.

The solution is often the component that many unknowingly gravitate to first. It is also not uncommon to forget about the issue and proof.

How and where can ISBP® be used?

Applying the technique in the ISBP® order naturally drives customer focus. Using it as you start to write helps articulate your thoughts which will then have a whole lot more meaning in your submission. Your writing will be more customer-focused, more benefit driven, and will have the main elements needed in a compelling response.

The ISBP® technique can be applied at many levels of a tender submission:

  • When forming an overall bid strategy
  • As a framework for Executive Summaries
  • When structuring a major section
  • For answering a specific question or evaluation criterion
  • When responding to a component of one section

It does take a little practice, but try it and benefit immediately from better customer focus in your bids.

ISBP® is a registered Australian trademark of Bid Write Pty Ltd.
Our thanks to Bid Solutions for inviting Nigel Dennis to contribute this article to the latest edition of Bidding Quarterly magazine. You can download the full Issue 18 – Secrets to Success here.


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