If it was easy to win a tender, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
The truth is that procurement is a confusing area and writing bids is a time consuming and difficult time for most companies looking to drive their growth.
If you are a business looking to stand out and succeed in the world of tendering but do not know where to start, our tender writing consultants, here at Hudson, are experts in providing advice regarding all things tendering.
We work with multiple clients across a wide range of sectors and can provide you with the knowledge and expertise to tackle what can often seem a daunting world, that is, public sector tendering. We understand the ins and outs of tendering and know no matter your companies’ size, tendering can and does pose its difficulties.
So, let’s break down what we need to consider when you think about how to win a tender:
Making sure you are tendering for the right opportunities for your business is vital in ensuring consistent growth and allowing you to ensure no precious time is wasted. Top tips for sourcing the right opportunities are as follows:
This can allow you to streamline your tendering efforts and ensure greater chances of success. For example, let’s say you are a surveying company who specialises in work with heritage sites and listed buildings, then streamlining your opportunity sourcing to fall under this criterion can help you locate opportunities which are right for you. As well as this, understanding your team’s experience and expertise can allow you to understand what areas of tendering you will exceed and stand out from the crowd in.
Whilst streamlining your approaches is a good start, it is essential that you break down the opportunity fully to understand its requirements prior to beginning work. For example, whilst you may specialise in surveying to heritage sites, you may also fall short of the mandatory turnover requirements, and failing to pick this up in the first instance may mean your responses go to waste.
Buyers want to see exceptionally written tender submissions, so to win a tender you need to submit a bid that demonstrates your understanding of their requirements.
You can do this by shredding the specification in the following way:
To win a tender, you need to plan your response effectively. This is vital to ensuring success as you need to make sure that submitting the tender is the right thing to do in the first place.
The following tools can help you plan your tender submission:
Winning a tender can depend on how you write your responses. Storyboarding helps you to formulate a structure for each response and maximises its effectiveness. You will be able to write clearly and concisely address the requirements for each question.
Briefing events are key to winning a tender. If a buyer hosts a briefing event it is usually for two reasons:
By attending site visits and briefing events you can gain detailed knowledge of the contract you’re bidding for. Use this knowledge to strengthen your tender.
If you’re unable to attend the buyer’s events or site, don’t worry. Nearly every client will disseminate information through the tendering portals to all contractors after the event. If they don’t do this quickly. Be proactive and request the information!
If you want to win a tender, you need to know the proposal you submit offers the maximum chance of delivering the buyer’s requirements.
Your company are experts in delivering your service or product. You wouldn’t be tendering for contracts if you didn’t believe in yourselves. So, when it comes to tendering, believe in your people.
Nine times out of ten you will need to name your proposed team to deliver the contract. Use their knowledge, experience and skills to help create your tender.
By doing this, you bring that expertise into the responses and demonstrate to the buyer that you can deliver the contract to their expectations.
Agree as early as possible the content you want to include in your tender. Having a clear plan of what you want to include in your tender means you can focus on creating the best responses possible.
To win a tender you need to be clear in your response. By agreeing early on what you want to say in your tender you can ensure this happens.
Being able to evidence your company’s ability in delivering a service is absolutely key to seeing success in public sector tendering. It is standard across public sector tendering for buyers to ask you to evidence at least 3 past contracts which are active or have been completed, usually within the past 5 years. These contracts are also required to be relevant to the service you are tendering to provide. Top tender writing training tips regarding case studies are:
Having detailed, thorough and well-developed case studies is key to success with tender writing. Making sure your case studies are well developed from the outset will ensure you can showcase your company’s abilities in the best possible light. For example, let’s say you are a structural engineering company tendering for consultancy services to bridgework, then having 3 relevant, in date and well-developed case studies relating to bridgework will be key. Ask yourself, is our experience strong enough for this submission? If the answer is no, then it is probably worthwhile re-evaluating before going ahead with developing a full tender response.
We understand that everyone has to start somewhere and not everyone can have 20 case studies worth of experience under their belt. You may be a small graphic design company who have just started out and you are looking to expand through public sector tendering. It is worthwhile having at least 3 case studies worth of experience before tendering to ensure your responses are shortlisted/ successful. It may be worthwhile contacting your local council and requesting to be considered for framework agreements that may have open as a subcontractor. This will allow you to build upon your company’s experience and sets you up accordingly to hit the ground running in tendering. Tenders can often be very large and extensive, with some construction tenders exceeding 15,000 words. Ensuring you do not fall at the first hurdle can be essential in ensuring your efforts are worthwhile.
Buyers want reassuring that you can deliver what they are looking for. Throughout the responses you create it is vital that you make reference to your experience to back up what you are saying. For example, let’s say you are a tech company tendering for website design for a school. If you have experience operating in the education sector, then make sure this is referenced throughout. If the question is asking for your approach to back end website design, then make sure you evidence this approach through your past successes. For further information and tender writing training tips, see our tender VLE video on case studies.
This seems simple, but buyers are forever reading strong bids which fail to score highly. This is because the information submitted in the tender doesn’t answer the question.
Here’s how you can ensure you answer the question fully, score highly and maximise your chance to win the tender.
Take the time to understand the question, what is being asked and what the buyer wants to see in your response
This sounds simple, but when you are dealing with large submissions it is vital to ensure you breakdown each question and set out your approach. For example, large construction frameworks may require you to answer 25 questions with a 1,000-word requirement per question. Breaking each question down into headings will give you much more direction when writing responses and will allow you to gather information from colleagues, if necessary.
This will help you clearly provide a robust answer and make it easier for the buyer to award you a higher score.
Referencing your companies accreditations can be a vital way of showcasing your ability to deliver a certain aspect of the contract. For example, tenders often include a question regarding your approach to contract management. Although not all tenders specifically state you must reference or attach copies of your accreditations, showcasing these within your responses validates your abilities to buyers. For example, stating that you are ISO 9001 accredited and including an attached copy will always strengthen responses, however, make sure you are able to submit attachments before going ahead and doing so.
Show understanding of the specifications in your responses. If you can answer the question, demonstrate where you can provide the services/product that the buyer needs and where you have achieved this previously with success; you will score highly. This includes cross-referencing each question with the specification requirements. For example, in tenders such as cleaning contracts, the tender documents often include a specification of exact requirements for the cleaning to be done. It is vital that you reference this in your method statement responses to showcase awareness of what the buyer wants and your capabilities of delivering to such requirements. For example, if a buyer is wanting a certain room in a building cleaned using a specific piece of equipment, then make sure this is replicated in the responses you provide. Failing to account for this will show lack of research and will be off-putting to buyers.
The best tenders deliver above and beyond the Client’s specifications. Consider wider factors which may impact the buyer’s decisions to award the tender and may include things like:
Take the time to investigate why this tender is open now, what the drivers are for the buyer to run this opportunity and what may be leading their decision.
For example, if the contract funded by the local government you should consider:
Considering all these factors and tailoring your bid to meet these constraints whilst also meeting the specifications will help you win a tender.
Considering how to win a tender with your price is relatively straight forward. Price your services competitively to maximise your chances.
You are experts in your field. You will know the market price for the works you deliver. Work with your supply chains and subcontractors to price as competitively as possible.
Bear in mind that pricing is the most common reason for being unsuccessful.
If you want to win a tender, work with your colleagues throughout the tender creation process to review your response as much as possible. Having multiple pairs of eyes glance over responses can be vital in ensuring the correct information is included. You may have written a response to a very technical question that is not your area of expertise.
Having members of your team who specialise in this area look over it for any mistakes or added value can be crucial in developing strong responses. For example, you may be a grounds maintenance company writing responses to a sports grounds maintenance tender. Having key experts from your team look over your response will ensure that you are including the correct terminology and methods for providing the service the buyer is looking for.
Use the experts in your field relevant to the content you’re creating to ensure what you’re saying is correct and is clearly explained.
Don’t think of this as a negative. By working with your colleagues to proofread each application, you can maximise the quality of your tender. You’ll be able to submit something that you know is the best it can be and has been agreed with multiple subject matter experts.
This is particularly necessary when you are writing large and extensive responses. Tender submissions can and often do exceed 15,000 words and it is essential to ensure you have enough time to go over each of your responses before the deadline hits. Let’s say you are an architectural firm tendering for the design of a museum, you are probably going to need more than 2 hours to skim over your content. Making sure this is factored in will ensure each response you submit is of the best possible quality, thereby securing you ongoing success moving forward.
It’s a simple but time-consuming idea and is often left out in favour of writing new content. It is important however to check every claim, and every statement you make in the tender against the specification. If it doesn’t meet the buyer’s requirements, consider how it actually adds to the tender.
There are times when you will need to provide information which is outside the scope of the buyer’s needs e.g.
This is key when you consider how to win a tender. Again, it is a simple concept, but you need to make sure you have set enough time aside to be able to submit your tender.
Most tenders are submitted through online portals, and most of these are very user-friendly. The buyer will also provide submission information as part of the tender documents you receive when you are invited to tender. This will include details on the support available for you to use the tender portals and how to access it.
Be aware that sometimes a tender needs to be submitted through the post. You will need to make allowances for the postal service you use to deliver your tender.
There are no magic formulas for how to win a tender and no guarantees. Tender to the best of your abilities and you’ll maximise your chances.
If you feel you need support or more information about how to write winning bids, contact our bid writers for specialist advice. You can also arrange a face to face meeting at one of our offices listed below:
Harewood House, Bowburn North Industrial Estate, Bowburn, Durham, DH6 5PF
First Floor, Swan Buildings, 20 Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JW
Kemp House, 152 City Road, London EC1V 2NX
9100 Conroy Windermere Road, Suite 200, Windermere, FL 34786 USA
24 School St Boston, MA 02108, USA
Or visit our free virtual learning environment, Tender VLE.
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