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Top 10 tips for winning tenders and bids

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Winning tenders can help you grow your customer base

You’ve found a tender that you want to go for, which is great news for your business. But how do you increase the chances of succeeding with it? Sarah Pickard is a freelance bid consultant, who helps businesses prepare high-quality, well-written bids and tenders.

In this article, she shares 10 basic tips for writing a successful bid and winning tenders. They might sound a bit obvious but they can often get overlooked in the buzz of bidding for new business.

Get this right, though, and you can grow your customer base.

1. Make sure your company meets the minimum requirements for the opportunity

These will be set out in the bid documents. You don’t want to waste time and resources submitting a bid that is doomed to failure from the beginning.

2. Pass/fail questions do what they say on the tin

If your answer doesn’t meet the pass criteria then the client’s assessor is likely to fail your entire submission. Always check through the pass/fail questions first to make sure you will pass them before starting work on the rest of the bid.

3. Assume ignorance

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the person reading your bid knows anything about your company, even if you are already working with the organisation that you are bidding to work with.

4. Answer all the questions as fully as possible

If you can’t provide all the information then explain why not rather than leaving blanks. Use N/A (not applicable) for the questions that are not relevant to your company.

5. Read the submission instructions carefully and follow them to the letter

Check early on to see what format(s) are needed – leave enough time at the end for printing and packaging hard copies.

This always takes long than you think and no amount of willpower can make a printer go quicker.

6. Now is not the time for modesty

Make sure you clearly explain what you do, how you do it and why your company is a good fit for the opportunity.

It takes time and care to craft well-written bid responses but remember that this is the only information that the client will be assessing.

7. Stay within the word limits

The assessor may well stop reading anything over the word limit. Also try to use the word limits as a rough guide for how long to make your answer.

The contracting organisation is looking for a certain level of information. For example, 100 words is a quick overview, while a limit of 1000 words means they want a detailed in-depth answer.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a minimum of 80% of the word count.

8. Give substance to your answers

Back up what you have said with evidence – statistics, quotes from clients, awards and accreditations all add credibility to your bid.

9. Use diagrams and photographs to illustrate your bid

A picture tells a thousand words… and often don’t count towards a word limit. A well-presented bid that makes good use of graphics will give a great first impression and will be easier to read.

10. Read, review and proofread your bid

Use the client’s evaluation criteria (from the bid documentation) to mark the bid from their perspective. It can be helpful to get someone else who hasn’t written the bid to review it from an objective viewpoint.

Be critical and thorough with this, as you want to make sure you’ve said what you think you have.

Final thoughts on bids and winning tenders

If you are bidding at the moment then good luck. Bids and tenders really aren’t that complicated, you just need to read the documents carefully and tell the client about your business.

These tips will help you get through the procurement process and allow your business to be assessed on its own merit rather than failing on a technicality. If you’ve covered the basics then your bid has every chance of success.

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