How do you develop powerful win themes?

It’s Tuesday afternoon, you have gathered your team together for a bid kick off session and most of it has been focused on what is in the documents. The last item on your agenda is ‘win themes’ and with everyone wanting to get back to their desks, you agree that is definitely your experience as the incumbent and your track record of delivering on time.

So you lock these in, write up your executive summary, complete the bid and … you lose. And the reason you lost is that you effectively had no win themes.

There are only two things that win bids: the best price and/or the best value. Your experience including your incumbency is not a win theme on its own. It’s how your experience and incumbency will add value to your client. This is what you need to demonstrate.

A winning win theme is one that provides benefit to your customer. It addresses what your client is trying to achieve and their risks. To develop meaningful win themes, follow these steps:

  1. Look at your competitors. What can you deliver that they can’t? And if there is something they do better, how can you counteract that?
  2. Consider the evaluation criteria as this highlights what is important to your customer. Make sure you score well against these throughout your bid.
  3. Carry out a risk assessment from your client’s perspective. Once you know what their concerns are and what could go wrong for them, the ideas will start to flow.
  4. Always add a placeholder win theme for a smart idea. Often you will not now this at the start of a bid but keep revisiting this theme as a smart idea that adds value and benefit to your client is the best win theme of all.

Once you have carried out these four tasks, you will be better placed to identify winning win themes. Capture these on a focus sheet and have them alongside you at all times as you develop content. The end result will be a compelling submission that will score highly.

If you need help developing your win themes to grab that next contract, send us an email to or talk to us on 0800 PLANAA (752 622).