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Not only is there an imminent deadline, but if you don’t give it your all, it’s not only time you’re wasting – it’s money! After all, writing winning bids is the sole aim of partaking in the procurement process. Writing excellent, winning quality responses is essential to success.
Writing winning bids may not be rocket science, but there are things you can do to improve your chances of success.
Before you begin, 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. It also allows you to ensure no precious time is wasted. Here are our top tips to sourcing the right opportunities for your business:
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 that specialises in work with heritage sites and listed buildings. Streamlining your opportunity sourcing to fall under this criterion can help you locate opportunities that 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, you must break down the opportunity fully to understand its requirements before beginning work. For example, whilst you may specialise in surveying 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 tender 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.
Here are 10 tips that will put you on the right path to successful tendering:
There will have been times in the past, especially if you’re handling more than one tender at a time, where a date may have been mixed up and you’ve realised that the bid is due in 24 minutes and not 24 hours. Read the tender timetable carefully. This will enable you to start planning effectively. Tender timetables are found in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) and look something like this:
|Example Date||Example Milestone|
|31-July-2018 – 03-Aug-2018||Evaluation|
|03-Aug-2018||Notice to Award / Alcatel commence|
|13-Aug-2018||Contract Start Date|
Make sure you assess whether or not the opportunity is the best option for you. We have been behind many projects in the past, working tirelessly on content and writing bids on behalf of our clients, when 2 days before submission, they decided it’s not right for them. Don’t waste your time and money – make sure it is right for you by closely digesting ALL of the information. Yes – it may be a 100-page document you have to read through but believe us – it’ll be worth it in the long run.
At this point in the process, you should have seen the opportunity (contract notice) and decided that it looks like a good one to bid for based on the description on the procurement portal.
However, the basic information on the contract notice is not sufficient to determine if you will be able to tender for that opportunity. Methodically breaking down a potential tender is imperative if you want to use your time as economically as possible.
Good news! You have looked carefully through all of the tender documents and decided that you have the experience and commercial viability to stand a chance of winning.
However, writing bids and tenders is as much to do with attention to detail as it is stating your experience. Buyers want to know that you have a good understanding of the work that will be involved if you win. To demonstrate this, you need to showcase it in your tender responses.
9 times out of 10, the tender documents will include a specification. This will list exactly what it is the buyer wants from the supplier.
To make sure that your written responses are tailored to the buyer, go through the specification with a fine-toothed comb. Make a note of which sections apply to which quality question. This will help you to respond to the questions with the needs of the buyer firmly in mind. It will also show the buyer that you have a solid understanding of their requirements.
Once you know the buyer’s timescales, now it’s time to get your bid management in order. This is where you create a plan for the tender at hand. No matter the size of the opportunity, whether it’s £10,000 or £10 million. It’s very important to make sure you’re not winging it and have a structured plan in place to manage your time and approach effectively. A Gantt chart is typically used in project management cases for longer periods, detailing responsibilities, activities and timescales. We love a good Gantt chart and feel this is a clear-cut process for managing those all-important milestones when developing and submitting a tender.
To ensure that you are writing winning bids, it’s not just enough to demonstrate how you are going to meet the buyer’s requirements. You need to show the buyer what you can bring to the table that other suppliers can’t or won’t.
This is a daunting prospect for many tenderers. Nobody wants to put themselves in a position where they are promising the world and then can’t deliver on it.
However, the added value doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Buyers are really concerned with things such as:
Even a small business can demonstrate in their responses that they can contribute on this front by:
Something we see again and again is content that has been written in a generic way. Often, tenderers see that they have a specific word count to meet and worry that if they don’t write enough, they won’t score well. In a way this is true, you should always try to fill the word count, but don’t fill it up with generic ‘fluff’.
Buyers don’t want to read entire paragraphs of well-written prose that doesn’t really tell them anything about what you’re going to do. They want straight to the point, specific information that will tell them exactly how you plan to deliver the contract.
Specificity is key across all areas of your tender. In order to ensure you are writing winning bids, it’s advisable to be as detailed and specific as possible whenever the opportunity presents itself.
In short, it is better to write 500 words of specific, detailed content that will show the buyer exactly how you will deliver that service.
We’ve liaised with many customers who have never used a specific online portal before, and the submission of their tender documents has been delayed due to their lack of understanding or inability to navigate. We recommend you get to know the portal in the early stages. Have a click around and familiarise yourself before submission.
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 that 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 that has 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 reassurance that you can deliver what they are looking for. Throughout the responses you create it’s 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.
The importance of checking your finished response before submission cannot be overstated. Remember, it’s rarely as simple as filling out the SQ, responding to the quality questions and attaching the pricing document.
There can be Forms of Tender to be completed, Service Level Agreements, Non-Collusion Certificates and similar.
These are often hidden away as embedded documents within other documents. Before uploading your response to the portal, be sure that you have checked (and re-checked!) all documentation.
Writing winning bids isn’t just about the quality of your responses. It’s about ensuring that no stone is left unturned.
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.
Do your best to aim for submission at least 24 hours before the deadline. This will allow you ample time to double (or triple!) check all elements of your submission. Make sure that you are not at risk of wasting days (or weeks) of hard work through having your tender disqualified because of an oversight.
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.
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.
Winning bids can be a complex undertaking, especially if you are new to the process. Enlisting the help of a bid writer is an effective way of saving time and submitting a professional tender response. If you are looking to outsource a bid writer for the first time, there are a few things you should consider.
We have been crafting winning bids for almost two decades. During this time, we have supported hundreds of businesses in numerous industries. When working with clients who have never outsourced bid writing previously, we have noticed some common misconceptions.
Implementing these considerations can save copious amounts of time. Before you even begin to look for a bid writing service, make sure you consider the following five points.
Before approaching a bid writing organisation, there are a few boxes that you should check internally. This will save you from extortionate quotes and potentially paying for poor-quality, rushed work.
Once you have found a tender, it’s important to perform a quick analysis of the work involved. The tender specification will detail the work involved, including word counts and the documents you must provide. Using this information, you can determine the timescales that a bid writer would need to complete the work.
Consider that the average bid writer produces 1,500 – 2,000 words per day. With this in mind, compare the overall word count to the tender deadline. Once you have a rough idea of the timescales, you can approach bid writing companies with a more informed perspective. This will help you to detect unreasonable quotes.
If the deadline is in two days and requires 10,000 words, it’s unlikely that a bid writing company will agree to the work. If they do, it’s important to consider the quality of the submission. You could end up paying an obscene fee, only to lose the bid due to poor quality responses.
It’s not enough to make your bid/no-bid decision simply based on the title or by skimming the specification. When you approach a bid writer, they will expect you to know that you are eligible to deliver the contract.
Their role is to write winning bids. To do this effectively, they need the maximum amount of time to craft responses that will impress buyers.
To help your bid writer, you should fully read and digest the tender specification, ensuring that you comply with the criteria. If this is not possible (specifications can be anywhere from 30 pages to 100+) you should inform your bid writer.
In the specification, you will find details of criteria such as:
If you don’t comply and still wish to bid for the tender, you should make your bid writer aware. An experienced bid writer will be able to advise you on the likely outcome, helping you make your bid/no-bid decision.
Once your project is agreed upon, your bid writer will commence the work. We can’t speak for all consultancies, but we have a robust way of managing our tender submissions.
When producing winning bids, we believe that the proof is in the planning! That’s why we begin every tendering process with a bid plan. The plan consists of timescales for both us and the client. This ensures that both parties know what is required and we can set expectations from the outset.
If we have never worked with the client before, we will need to gather information from the business. This information will allow us to write accurate bids that showcase your organisation in the best light.
Usually, we will require the following information:
When the service commences, please be prepared to offer as much information as possible. If you don’t have these documents, our bid designers can create them for you.
When it comes to your services, you are the expert. Your bid writer will most likely require some technical input from your organisation to accurately answer questions about specific methodologies.
For example, a tender for architecture services will require technical content about the intricacies of structural work. Your bid writer is unlikely to have the answers. To provide specialist information, they will need to gather information from you.
Of course, it is helpful and more efficient if your business has already created methodology statements. If this is not possible, in most cases, your bid writer will be able to gather information over the phone. Once they have this technical input from you, they can begin to create impressive responses.
At Hudson Succeed, we know that winning bids requires technical and accurate details. As multi-disciplinary bid writers, we have acquired some specialist knowledge over the years. However, if the buyer requires technical information, we will always consult with you first. This ensures that your responses reflect the extensive experience and knowledge of your organisation.
As bid writers, the only aspect of your submission that we never involve ourselves in is the pricing element. The reason for this is simply because you are the experts in your business. We trust that you know how much to quote to profit from the contract, should you be successful.
Whilst we have experience in a range of industries, we never claim to be experts in one particular field. We are experts in bid writing. We know how to craft winning bids that can help your organisation grow.
iLine Technologies is a member of iGroup conglomerate – involved in all things trenchless.
Founded in 2012 in Northampton by Gary Houghton and Nick Sheehan, iLine is the UK’s leading specialist in culvert and gravity sewer. Relining works include:
Tendering can be time-consuming for a specialised industrial company such as iLine. Unable to sacrifice other business commitments and insufficient bid capabilities in-house – there was only one option.
iLine required a bid management company to help their business grow. They needed a company that could help them access and source tendering opportunities. They required a company that could assist them in writing high-quality tender responses.
Our tender writing services are for companies who are struggling to create that winning quality response. Or for those who do not have enough time to examine an extensive specification.
Nick Sheehan, Managing Director of iLine, discovered Hudson via a simple Google search. Thanks to the work of our fantastic marketing team.
Initial contact was made to Hudson Discover via a phone call with our Client Engagement Manager, Jamie Peacock.
After iLine’s specific tender writing requirements were established, he was transferred through to our Head of Bid Management – Daniel Hall. Daniel heads our Hudson Succeed team.
Our Hudson Succeed team is made up of the following roles:
iLine could not have chosen a better bid management company to assist them. Our extensive knowledge, fantastic resources and a win rate of 87% are highly commended.
Leicestershire County Council released a tendering opportunity in November 2019. This was for ‘Bridge Arch Strengthening with Structural GRP Segmental Lining at City of Three Waters’. The anticipated contract value of this was a whopping £150k!
Super competitive, right?
iLine absolutely wanted to win this contract. Therefore, they required our specialised bid management services to assist with creating those compelling quality responses.
Responses that stood out from their competitors.
With every tender opportunity comes an elongated specification. And this one was no different!
With the preliminary stage of the contract due to start in January 2020, the tight deadline was approaching FAST.
One of the most common challenges every bid management company does face is stringent deadlines. This was the main challenge during our partnership.
Nick Sheehan, our initial main contact, was on holiday during the major stages. Around the time of the submission date, iLine had multiple staff absent.
This made it difficult for the Hudson Succeed team to extract the relevant technical information from iLine within the timeframe. Technical information which could affect the quality responses significantly.
In order to work around the demanding deadlines of this bid submission, we formed a standardised but comprehensive bid plan. We complete this at the initial stages of any bid, so we can break down each question – what is it really asking?
By doing this, we could then accurately highlight exactly what technical material we required from iLine. The best contact within the company to gather that information was identified.
Leicestershire County Council set out quality questions that required information on iLine’s:
Health & Safety is a huge factor in any construction tender opportunity. This is due to the construction sector being so high-risk and prone to hazardous situations. Hazards include:
The first question within this tender was:
‘Briefly describe how your H&S policy is communicated to staff’.
Okay. From this question, we could work out exactly what material was required from the specialists at iLine. Essential information to create that compelling answer.
We take this methodical approach to all questions asked. Ensuring the question is fully answered and all the relevant points are covered. This process gains maximum points and produces that winning answer.
The finished bid plan was sent to iLine within 48 hours of them deciding on this opportunity. After giving iLine over 24 hours to digest the bid plan, we arranged a telephone interview.
We retrieved all of the technical information required for the quality responses, from the specific questions we asked. After this initial phone call, Hudson Succeed was able to leave iLine to get on with their day-to-day business commitments. We required no further input until the review stage of the process.
Our tendering efforts and expertise won iLine an impressive £100k contract with Leicestershire County Council. By being organised and determined, the Hudson Succeed team gathered all technical material in enough time. We turned that material into a high-quality narrative. A narrative that fully adhered to the specification requirements and aligned with the evaluation criteria.
We submitted this bid 24 hours before the deadline.
iLine were so pleased with our Hudson Succeed team and our bid management company as a whole. They wanted further assistance with new opportunities.
iLine came across a new business opportunity on our Hudson Discover Construction Tenders portal. This was awarded by Vale of Glamorgan Council for Surface Water Sewer Re-lining and Restoration Works.
We are still waiting for this result. But we are extremely optimistic.
Nick says: “I came across Hudson via Google search on ‘tender assistance’ as our company were struggling to put together the quality submission when presenting a bid. From my first contact, Hudson was brilliant. After a few questions, they grasped the basics of our business and the industry sector we operate within. They took the stress and hassle of putting together the supporting documentation which now goes with the final submission. They left me to get on with what we do, and they needed very little support or input. In fact, they manage the whole tendering process from start to finish, and even submitting the bid. Jonny, in particular, drove the submission and was wonderful to work with. And on the first venture together, we were successful on a £100k tender. Highly recommend these guys”. – Nick Sheehan, Director at iLine (iGroup).
For more client testimonials, see our testimonials page.
One of the key things that Hudson can offer you is the chance to receive the right opportunities from the get-go. You won’t be days behind other competitors – if anything, you’ll be days ahead.
Our Hudson Discover service is the home of our industry-specific platforms. They enable you to view both public and private opportunities all in one place. These opportunities are specific not only to your sector but to your specialism within that sector. Get those all-important opportunities as soon as they’re published, allowing more time to focus on your time management when developing your response[s].
The tendering process requires patience and careful planning. With that said, there is a reason why we recommend twelve months with us on our Hudson Discover platforms.
Being under the impression that within one month your profit is going to have soared and business is going to be worth five times as much isn’t realistic. However, never say never and if you’re seriously savvy and hit the jackpot, you can strike lucky, however highly unlikely the chances are.
There are many external factors that can influence the availability of tenders. The end and start of a financial year can encourage firms to tender more or less depending on their stance and budgeting at that point in time. Changes in the economy can encourage particular sectors to tighten their purse strings. On the other hand, it could create competition and a surge of invitations.
Particular advances in technology and news reporting on such aspects can also have an impact, dependent on what exactly that is and how influential it is on the sector. All of these things and more are the reasoning behind the need to take a step back and utilise the time and available opportunities effectively.
Spending one month applying for every single tender on the table is most definitely not going to get you anywhere and could jeopardise your ability to write winning bids in the future. This is particularly the case if the client is known to repeatedly release opportunities.
The best use of your time will be to apply only for tenders that are relevant to YOUR business. Take a look at our article which is all about things to think about before you tender to get an idea of how to make a decision on what you should bid and not bid for. There are some really good pointers in here that will help your decision-making process.
The superior is to understand what is right for your business and what you’re likely to win. Put yourself in the mind of the buyer and be honest with yourself.
Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:
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