I was asked to contribute my top tendering tips for BT’s Upload magazine on an article entitled Winning the Big Contracts.
Use These Top Tendering Tips to Win Bids
Firstly, there are my 7 tips from the article. BT asked for some quick, simple and important bits of advice. It’s followed by 5 more detailed tendering tips to help you with winning tenders.
1. Be selective
Only go for the tenders you’re likely to win. Tendering is time-consuming. It’s 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!
5. Answer the question
Answer it fully and correctly. Don’t fudge it. A poor answer may hold back your bid. But do be honest… you will be found out if you lie.
6. Get the facts
Keep in touch with the buyer. Ask questions if you feel you need more information.
7. Ask for feedback
Whether you win or lose, constructive feedback will make the next bid easier.
If you want to improve your tender success, contact us for an informal discussion about our bid management and training services.
8. Sell Yourself!
Expanding on (4), in one respect, winning tenders is really simple – remember you are selling!
Because large tenders are so complex (and often overwhelming) they seem more like an administrative task than a pitch for business. Therefore, many people lose sight that tendering is merely a very formal part of the sales process: You need to sell your company and its services or products.
So many times when reviewing clients’ tender responses, we see that they don’t sell the company properly. They don’t explain how good they are. They don’t expand on how good their solution is. And how it would benefit their customer.
Not wanting to oversimplify winning tenders but when responding to tenders, bids, PQQs, RFPs etc remember to sell!
9. Pay Attention to Detail
Apart from selling, another fundamental part of successful tenders is attention to detail.
As a generalisation, salespeople are not great at administration and good administrators are rarely the best at selling. This simply emphasises the need for a team effort when responding to tenders – don’t leave it to just one person. Successful tenders normally involve using different people with different skills.
You can read more about bid management in Planning for Tenders and PQQs.
So, when responding to bids and tenders make sure that you pay full attention to exactly what is asked for and then ensure you provide it e.g. the right order, format and content. It will really help your chances of scoring well.
10. Overnight Test
Before submitting a bid give it the ‘overnight test’. Once you’ve got to the stage where you think it’s complete, stop working on it. Then revisit it the next day to review it with fresh eyes.
We all make mistakes and rush things when we get tired. We also often see what we think we have written – rather than what is actually on the page. Therefore, we don’t always spot our own mistakes. But after a proper overnight break, we usually will notice these errors. And see how copy and presentation could be improved.
To do this, you must plan ahead. This is good practice as it helps avoid your bid being a last-minute rush where you ‘chuck everything in and hope for the best’!
Ideally, you will also have an independent proof reader to provide another layer of quality control. You could re-read ad infinitum (although you will get diminishing returns) but a final ‘fresh’ review will pay dividends!
11. Talking Helps Win Contracts
If you want to win contracts, talking does help!
It is a basic fact that having a conversation with your prospective customer increases your chances of winning business. You have an opportunity to understand their needs and to check if your solution can meet these needs (i.e. selling).
This is opposed to working blind: In a formal tender you normally only get the specification and generic requirements e.g. ‘value for money’, ‘high quality’ etc.
In the private sector, you may get opportunity to discuss a tender during the process. But for high-value bids, modern public sector tendering rules prohibit any form of discussion – contact is only via an online portal only.
Don’t wait until the tender is out (or about to be issued). Seek out the organisations that you want to deal with. Find out when they are next due to tender. Then approach them well beforehand.
In the meantime, use any reasonable opportunity available to talk to prospects and get a real insight to their specific needs. This includes attending any tender briefings.
12. Perseverance + Learning = Tender Success
Expanding on (7), many businesses have taken a while to win a tender. But they have stuck with it and gone on to be very successful in tendering. Their formula to tender success is very simple:
Persevere You cannot win every tender. A good hit rate is over 40% but that’s 60% failure!. Intelligently choosing the right opportunities (rejecting the poor ones), writing good submissions and competitive pricing helps the odds.
Learning Rejection is painful – especially a big contract that you’ve spent a lot of time on. However, always get feedback and see how you could have done better. Then take action to make the improvements e.g. processes, policies, accreditations, pricing or the offering. NB some feedback can be misleading or very subjective so use common sense when evaluating.
Tender Success Tenders normally mean big contracts and generally big contracts don’t come easy: Perseverance + Learning = Tender Success.
Of course, this applies to so many things in life and business!
Tendering Tips – Summary
You can find tender tips in Bid Management. They have more detailed information on writing styles, content and bid management.
I’m sure you could add a few more tendering tips…