10 Most Common Tendering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When trying to write good tender / PQQ / RFP responses, a good starting point is to understand what are the most common tendering mistakes – you can then make sure you avoid them!

10 Most Common Tendering Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

In no particular order:

1. Incorrect Cost Schedules

You normally have to complete a pricing template; this makes it easier for the buyers to compare the various submissions. If you get it wrong, your prices may not accepted or marked properly

2. Incorrect Formatting, Presentation & Non-conformance

A bit like the last one, if you don’t follow their format, you can get marked down.

Qualifying Tenders to Increase Hit Rates (part 1)

Too many times we hear about people going for lots of tenders and not winning any – this is often due to not qualifying tenders properly ie ‘can we really win it’. If you are looking for new business and you find a tender, it can be very exciting when you go for it – the anticipation of a big win… but when you get rejected (once again) it is very depressing!

Assuming that you are Fit to Tender, the simple solution is properly qualifying tenders every time. Here are some ideas:

  • Go for quality not quantity – this will improve your hit rates
  • Ask yourself ‘can we win it? Is it really our business?’
  • Consider the contract value – contracts are often not given to organisations if the contract value represents more than 50% of their turnover (are you big enough to service the contract?).
  • Can you demonstrate working for similar types of customers doing similar work (and provide good references)?
  • Look at the tender evaluation criteria – can you meet their requirements and score well in the high-value questions?
  • Location – are you close enough to service the work? Unless you have a specialised offering, it’s often no good going for contracts out of your area.
  • Too many other bidders? Are you just making up the numbers?

Writing Method Statements for Tenders – Use Evidence

No matter how well you write your method statements in terms of technical capability, you still need to convince the reader that your organisation can really do the job. Good tender writing uses evidence.

Writing Method Statements for Tender Responses Using Evidence

Try and use the following methods of demonstrating

1. Anecdotal Evidence

Show how you solved a problem or achieved the required result.

2. Targets and KPIs

If your company meets / beats its targets, show it

3. Case Studies

These can be full blown or mini case studies as appropriate

4. Testimonials

Relevant to the point you are making and ideally attributable.

5. Customer Lists

These can help but they need to be relevant – ideally the same industry

6. Images, charts, tables etc.

That substantiate your claim (if they are permitted by the tender rules).


All of the above show the reader that you have done, and so can do, the job!

There is no absolute right or wrong in tender writing but believability is key to writing good tender submissions… that win contracts!

Any more ideas?

7 Top Tendering Tips for a Successful Tender

I was recently asked to contribute my top tendering tips for BT’s Upload magazine on an article entitled Winning the Big Contracts.

Top Tendering Tips

1. Be selective
Only go for the tenders you’re likely to win. Tendering is time-consuming – better to spend time searching for ‘best fits’ than waste time tendering for contracts you’ll never win.

2. Be prepared
Spend time standardising all your policies – health and safety, quality, insurances, accounts, etc. – and have them all available electronically.

3. Choose a team
Tendering is not a one-man job. Involve key players, administrators and management personnel, and consider using external ‘resources’, including consultants.

4. Assess their needs
Think about the buyer and their needs. That’s the key to a winning pitch!

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