Answer the Question.
This may sound like common sense, but the biggest error we see in bids is that the tenderer has responded to the question but not actually answered it. It’s a bit like asking a politician a question, all you want is a detailed enough answer without the waffle! Think about why they would be asking that question. For example, they will probably be making sure they don’t encounter the same problems as in the last contract so what may those problems be?
Use the Correct Tender Documents.
Always make sure you use the documents provided to provide your response. It’s good practice to use the Invitation To Tender (ITT) document as your response adding in your answers under each question. This will make sure that you get the right and relevant information in the right place. Make sure you don’t change them to PDF as this makes the evaluators job much harder.
Follow Tender Instructions.
Tenders include response forms which set strict word limits, so make sure you don’t go over the word limit as you may lose marks if you do. It’s a good idea to state the word count at the end of your response as well to make the evaluators job easier.
Form Professional Relationships and Network.
A strong indicator of success can be the extent of your existing relationship with the client's organisation however if you are bidding for a public sector contract, the tenderer is not allowed to take existing relationships or experience into account. Never respond on the basis that they already know you, you must “spell out” your experience etc. for it to count. Be careful not to try and influence the decision or the buyer as you may be excluded.
Write a Clear and Compelling Tender.
The answers you submit on response documents should be clear and brief. Add visuals such as diagrams, graphs, or illustrations, where they assist in conveying more involved ideas. Don’t waffle, make sure it is clear what you are saying. Get someone else to read it to check.
Provide Accurate Details.
Ensure you provide accurate and detailed responses. Don’t use slang or jargon and always make sure you fully complete your pricing document. Where pricing can be broken down into say materials and labour etc. it is always a good idea to do so as this shows the evaluator that you haven’t just picked a figure out of thin air!
Ensure Company Details Are Correct.
You would be surprised by how many bids spell the name of the company or persons name wrong. Make sure these are correct as there is nothing worse than someone not taking the time to make sure they use the correct name. It is also a very common mistake to re-use a template that you have used previously and leave the name of the previous tenderer or type of organisation in the document. We have seen many times where someone is bidding for a contract with say a social housing provider yet the response refers to “school”.
Make Sure You Sign It!
Make sure you sign all documents in the tender that require it. This is especially important with public sector contracts where there may be things like a “form of tender” or “Acceptance of terms and conditions” or “Declaration of Interests” etc.
Choose the Right References.
When providing references always make sure that they are as relevant and as similar to the work you are bidding for. Sometimes Public Sector organisations will be looking for experience working for their type of organisation as well as experience in doing a similar job. This often occurs with educational establishments such as schools, academies and colleges, where they will want companies who are used to working around young and vulnerable people.
Submit Accurate Quotations.
If you have access to estimating software, then this will allow your pricing to be as accurate as possible. This will reduce the need for “PC” sums which just add uncertainty into the bid and the buyer won’t like this. Be as accurate as you can.
What’s Your Pricing Strategy?
Before pricing, you need to consider how much you want or indeed need to win the tender. You may want to get an ”in” to an organisation and be willing to make very little profit on the first job, or be bidding for a contract with very little competition so can afford to price it a bit higher. Whatever applies, your price must be competitive. Public Sector organisations have a legal obligation to investigate “Abnormally Low” pricing and can exclude bids if they don’t accept why it is so low.
Do Your Research.
Do a bit of research into the organisation that you are bidding to work with. Have a look at their “Mission Statement” and such and use keywords and phrases from these in your responses. See if there are any other opportunities which you might be able to help them with, and always ensure you offer a lower cost or better-quality option.
What’s Your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
So, nearly every bidder adds a load of “fluff” into their bid and buyers will see straight through this. Have a think about what is different about your business or how you will deliver the contract, but make sure you think about it in terms of what will really benefit the buyer.
Have a look at your competitors and their weaknesses and without being negative about them, make a point of raising the opposite as a benefit of dealing with your business. This tactic can also be used to covertly raise awareness with the buyer of a potential issue or weakness with a competitor. For example, if your competitor uses temporary labour you could say something like “Rather than relying on temporary labour we have a dedicated and fully trained/qualified team of full time experts” or something similar.
Check Your Bid for Spelling and Grammar!
There’s absolutely no excuse for bad grammar or spelling, even if you aren’t that good at it! Make sure you use a spell checker or “Grammerly” and get someone to proofread your bid before you submit it. Whilst you might think it isn’t that important, I assure you it will have a negative impact on the perception the buyer has of you and your business.
Make it look professional.
Make sure your bid looks good and stands out from the rest. That doesn’t mean you go full design ninja on it, just add a bit of branding and maybe a coloured border to each page that matches your company brand/logo. The reason for this is so that the buyer remembers your bid and can easily refer back to it among a bunch of other bid documents.
Use the Resources at Your Disposal.
Use experts to complete sections relevant to them. This is especially important with Health & Safety as they can often talk in a different language! Another one to think about is getting input from the person who will run the contract/delivery should you be successful and make sure they can deliver what you are promising.
Don’t Wait to Submit Your Bid.
Do not wait until last minute to upload your bid. All tender portals are secure and will not allow the buyer to see any documents or pricing before the deadline has passed. If you have technical problems and miss the submission deadline, the buyer is quite rightly and pretty likely to reject your bid and you will have wasted hours preparing it for nothing. Most systems will also allow you to submit a revised tender before the deadline is passed so if your waiting for some quotes from third parties to come in, you can always get you bid in a day or two before the deadline then submit it again with amended pricing later.
If you’re not winning tenders always get feedback on how the successful bidder scored better than you and any other information which may help your future bids. Public Sector organisations are legally obliged to give you feedback.
It’s Not Just about The Tender.
Your bid begins the moment you reach out to your prospective client, so make every email and call count. Build value and rapport from the very first exchange and ask questions that can assist you in writing a better tender. Sometimes a client may simply like you or trust you and will give you a chance or they will dislike the language you use or something else and never give you a chance! This also goes for your social media activity. Make sure you don’t go overboard with anything that might cause offence as this will affect the buyers perception and willingness to work with you.