In its simplest terms, tendering is a formalised process for buying and selling. Everyone knows how much a good business relationship can help improve your chances of success when selling. But due to the formality of tenders, it can be difficult to even talk to someone once the tender is out – let alone build any decent relationships.
Pre Tender Meetings (Tender Briefing Meetings) can be used to develop relationships during the tendering process. However, it should be your aim to start building relationships with your prospect well in advance of the tendering process.
Pre Tendering Relationships
Generally when selling higher value or more complex goods or services, you start trying to develop a relationship as part of the sales process; ideally you will have built a relationship before you try to make the sale. The reasons for this include:
- Building trust
- Understanding your prospect’s needs and problems
- Your prospect gets to know your organisation’s abilities and benefits
Tenders are generally used for higher-value contracts. So, the same benefits of relationships that apply to selling can apply to tendering. Your relationship may also be able to influence the tendering process i.e. help the prospect in deciding what specification to tender for.
It has been said that if you can build a good business relationship prior to tender, in whatever way, it will increase your chance of winning the tender by up to 50%! If you have a good relationship you are already way ahead of the competition.
This relationship should be targeted to commence no less than 6 months prior to the bid coming out. This then gives the opportunity to start a dialogue. That will help you to get to grips with their needs, problems and aims. You can can then offer them a potential solution and test if they like it. You may have chance to invite to them site visits or demonstrations to prove that you can help them.
You can then maintain the relationships up until the tender by communicating the odd news snippet or explaining any new company initiatives; getting the tendering organisation involved in your business leading up to the tender date.
TIP: It is best to concentrate your efforts on the budget holder not the buyer. Procurement officers are often busy and focussed on their current projects, whereas the budget holder will have a vested interest in improving their department.
If you leave it until the bid is about to come out, many will avoid meetings and phone calls as they mustn’t be seen to be compromising their impartiality. This is certainly the case for public sector high-value opportunities – all communication is by an online portal during the tender process.
TIP: Once the tender is out, be careful about making contact. To ensure impartiality, the tender panel will generally not want to speak to you informally.
So, once you have identified your list of prospects and understood their tendering timescales, try and develop a good business relation before the tendering process starts.
If you would like any help with tendering, contact us.
Tendering is used to help select the best provider. They should be evaluated impartially. So, the tender panel should ignore any existing relationships. But do they always? And knowing more about their needs than your competitors will give you the upper hand.
Summary – Relationships and Tenders
A strong relationship and a good understanding of the customer’s needs will help you write a better bid. It will also put your ahead of the competition.
Avoid waiting until the tender is published – start way beforehand.
If you have any other thoughts on this, please add your comments below.