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  • 4 minutes
  • 25/01/2024

A tale of three bids: Win work while maintaining your margin with Social Value

Follow the progress of three bidders, and see how Social Value enables one to both win the contract and maintain profitability. 

When it comes to winning work from the public sector, success hinges on mastering what Durham County Council’s Chief Procurement Officer Richard Carroll calls ‘the holy trinity’ of bid evaluation:  

  1. Quality 
  2. Cost 
  3. Social Value 

Bid evaluation triangle: Quality, cost, and Social Value


While quality and cost are crucial components, it’s the often-underestimated Social Value that can be the game-changer.  

Let’s look at why Social Value is such a powerful tool for winning work by following the bidding journeys of three competing companies. As we’ll see, a strong Social Value score can empower bidders to maintain their desired pricing models, and still emerge victorious. 

How Social Value changes the game 

Recent legislative changes have made it mandatory for local government bids to weight Social Value at a 10% minimum. But as our CEO Guy Battle explained on the Procurement Podcast, these Social Value weightings are frequently much higher and are only rising.   

Imagine three companies vying for a public sector contract. On this particular tender, the weightings are:  

  • Quality: 30% 
  • Cost: 50% 
  • Social Value: 20% 

Here’s how each affects evaluation, and thus determines the outcome of this tale of three bids: 


All three companies score equally in the quality department – so far they are all equal, at 30%.  


They differ significantly in cost, however, with Company A the most expensive, Company C the cheapest, and Company B falling in-between. 

The evaluator’s weightings now place Company C in the lead with 65%, while Company B comes in second with 60%. Company A trails in third place at 55%.  

Social Value 

But the story isn’t over yet. It’s now time to consider the three bidders’ Social Value commitments – a crucial factor that can quickly tip the scales.  

While Company C appears cost-effective at first glance, its commitment to Social Value is the lowest. Company B offers average Social Value and mid-level pricing. 

Company A, on the other hand, has committed to delivering the highest Social Value against their contract value.  

Three bids: Why Company A wins!  

The three companies’ different performance across the evaluation areas might seem to leave them neck and neck: 

But Company A’s commitment to Social Value proves the differentiator.  

It may be the most expensive – but it promises a greater community impact. This means that the buyer’s spend will go further with Company A. It can therefore justify a higher contract value, maintain profitability, and achieve a healthier gross margin.  

That’s a win-win, for Company A, the buyer, and the community.  

Watch the full video of Company A’s successful bid.

How to win at Social Value 

In our Win more Bids guide, Social Value Portal presents a strategic six-step approach to winning the Social Value section of your bid, so you can replicate Company A’s success:  

  1. Build the foundations: Establish a Social Value culture, strategy, and policy. Understand how to measure and deliver it, then build a track record. 
  2. Understand the ask: Study the customer and analyse the tender requirements. Identify the evaluation criteria and know your competition. 
  3. Plan well: Structure the submission and clearly articulate the delivery. Identify any partners and detail remedial action. 
  4. Set relevant targets: Lay out relevant and achievable targets and use guidance for your measures. Adhere to key Social Value principles and use the right units of measurement. 
  5. Prove you can deliver: Instil confidence in the targets and justify your metrics. Outline delivery initiatives and highlight your track record. 
  6. Show you are a pro: Present professionally, using straightforward language. Be innovative and learn from experience.

Start powering-up your Social Value bid 

At Social Value, we have empowered countless businesses to win major public sector contracts with effective Social Value bids.  

Our data reveals that companies excelling in Social Value are twice as likely to secure victory in their bids.  

Explore our Bidder’s Toolkit to start tapping into your Social Value potential – and reaping the rewards.