How to Qualify Tenders – Bid or No Bid

How to qualify tenders is a topic that gives many business owners a headache! Here is a guide on qualifying tenders. It also applies to when you invited to quote for work. Bid or No Bid.

How to Qualify Tenders - Bid or No Bid

How to Qualify Tenders & Sales Opportunities

It’s all about Quality Not Quantity. This refers equally to formal tenders and when you get approached for a quotation.

Over the years I’ve had some lengthy discussions with MDs about whether to bid or not. Deciding between ditching an opportunity to win new business and wasting time is tricky.

I love winning bids! But absolutely hate wasting time on something that was never going to be a success. I try and take a realistic view on the likely return on investment (time and money). I can then make a more rational decision whether to pitch or not.

Previous posts on Qualifying Tenders (part 1) and Qualifying Tenders (Part 2) set out my approach on choosing to bid or not. You cannot expect to win everything you go for – even after careful qualification. But at least you can avoid bidding on no-hopers.

Too Many Opportunities

Another difficult issue is when too many opportunities come up at the same time. If you do not have enough resources to bid for everything properly, then you need to make a decision on which tender(s) to reject. It is normally far better to submit 1-2 first class bids than 3-4 poor tenders. So consider which are most important and then politely decline the rest.  Typical considerations are:

  • Existing business vs. new
  • Great customers vs. poor
  • Ideal work vs. imperfect

Can You Compete?

And I frequently get asked by start-up companies how they can win large public sector contracts. I try and gently explain that it’s hard for new companies to compete against more established businesses. You don’t need to be a big business to win big contracts. But you do need to be able to beat the competition. Our Tender Check-list has advice on making the decision whether to tender or not. It also explains how to get ready to win tenders.

Remember that tendering and bidding for contracts is part of the sales process. You are still selling, although in a more formal way than face-to-face sales. You should always carefully assess all sales opportunities – is it right for you or is it a waste of time. The same approach to qualification applies to tenders.

New Procurement Regulations Could Help You to Qualify Tenders

I recently posted an article on the new 2015 Procurement Regulations and How Will They Effect Tenders & PQQs. There are two procedural changes that could help with qualifying public sector tenders:

  1. ‘Below Threshold Contracts’ will not require PQQs
  2. Electronic versions of the procurement documentation will be available via the internet when the OJEU contract notice is published

These mean that you should have more information from the very start. That should assist with making a more informed decision. Not having to complete a PQQ in order to see the tender can certainly save time. Having all documents available beforehand will allow you to assess what is involved in bidding. You can see the questions, the contract and the specification. This knowledge can definitely help with the bid / no bid decision.


It’s always exciting when you have an opportunity to pitch for work. But remember it’s all about Quality Not Quantity.

It is vital to have a sensible approach to qualifying tenders and sales opportunities. Be careful, logical and impartial. Only go for those that are really viable. That way you reduce wasted effort and increase your win rate.

Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when attempting to qualify tenders or deciding what sales leads to chase:

  1. “Can we do it?” (Can we do the work?)
  2. “Can we win it?” (Can we win the contract?)

Question (1) is pretty obvious. But unless you can also say ‘yes’ to question (2) – do not bid.

Anyone got any more thoughts on how to qualify tenders and sales opportunities?

10 thoughts on “How to Qualify Tenders – Bid or No Bid”

  1. Good post Tony. I really like the points about being overwhelmed by opportunities and that it is better to focus on and submit 1-2 first class bids as opposed to trying to do too many. I would also add that the hard discussion at the beginning is really important – do we have the track record to deliver on this and is there evidence unquestionably (i.e. case studies and testimonials), that we have done so successfully in the past? Sometimes a business can be slightly disillusioned about how good they really are.

    Something that is also important in bid/no bid is to be absolutely clear about your client group and the value your service offers. With this clarity, quite a few bids may actually be discounted because it does not fit their client or service profile acutely. Another point is do we really want this kind of work or are we doing it for the money?

    The comment about start-up is spot on and this is often because they have heard that it is good to work with the public sector but unclear about what they need to have in place before they can actually do so.

  2. Thanks for the feedback Morton
    Adding “do we REALLY want this work or is it just chasing money irrespective of where we want to be” is an excellent addition to the questions to ask.

  3. iam so greatful on the tips on how to qualify a tender bid.i have just completed registering my company and wish to get guidance from the experience companies and individuals,looking forward for your advice and support as i enter into the market.

  4. It’s impossible for me to say. But the answer to your question is in the guidance given in this post – if you follow the qualifying process, you should be able assess your chances of winning. The process is the same in all countries although there could be other local factors that you need to consider.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: