The Alternative Bid

The alternative bid can be a very powerful tool in winning tenders but it is often overlooked. Here is a quick guide on how it can increase your chances of tendering success.

What is an Alternative Bid?

In simple terms, it means offering something different to what is being asked for in the invitation to tender (ITT). For example, if the ITT specifies using a particular brand of product, an alternative bid could be to offer an alternative brand.

When to use an Alternative Bid

Use only when there is a benefit to the customer. If the ITT specifies using Brand X but you are certain that using Brand Y would save them money, time or provide some other benefit then it would be good to offer an alternative using Brand Y.

Other examples of alternative bids include:

  • Alternative pricing model eg an ITT asks for a bundled price but a different pricing model could save them money
  • Different methodology eg the specification shows how things currently operate but they could be improved by using different processes, technology or materials

Essentially the alternative should offer savings, improvement, innovation, added value or some other tangible benefit to the customer. Therefore you must clearly explain ‘what is in it for them’.

When not to use an Alternative Bid

Firstly check that alternatives are allowed (or not specifically disallowed). Many tenders encourage them but if in doubt, check.

The alternative bid should not normally replace a compliant bid; submit an alternative in addition to a compliant bid. The reason being that tender panels normally want to be able to compare like-with-like; alternatives are normally assessed in addition to a compliant bid. Ensure that your compliant bid meets their needs before working on an alternative bid.

Do not offer an alternative bid just because it is more convenient or beneficial to you – it must also benefit the customer. For example, the specification might ask for something that you don’t normally stock or use. Ideally you will find a way of pricing for this, then also offer an alternative along with its benefits.

How to Submit an Alternative Bid

You don’t necessarily have to submit two different tenders / cost schedules. The alternative bid might only involve an explanation of what is involved and its benefits; along with some narrative in the price schedule stating the potential savings. The idea is to try and excite the tender review panel – grabbing their attention in order that you can make the short-list and hopefully have a chance to explain the alternative bid in more detail.

Why use an Alternative Bid?

It offers two advantages:

  1. Differentiating you from the competition by demonstrating that your company is innovative and forward thinking
  2. Giving you two chances of being competitive – compliant (standard) and alternative (innovative) bid

If you want help with tendering and alternative bids, contact us.

Our experience has shown that alternative bids can really help with winning a tender!

Have you tried using them?

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