Have you ever submitted a tender knowing you can easily do the job and yet got nowhere?
To win work through tenders you must not only demonstrate experience and capability but also effectively communicate why you should be the preferred bidder. There are some simple strategies you can use to sell your solution and get your tender ahead of the pack. It may take you longer, but it could be the difference between winning and losing.
1. Demonstrate understanding
Don’t just talk about your business; try to demonstrate that you understand what the purchaser needs and match your solution to this. Consider their goals and any current challenges they face in maintaining their operations. The reviewers want to know what’s in it for them, not what you think of your own ability. Show the reviewer that you are not just another business – that you’ve thought about the requirements and are willing to go above and beyond to ensure a great outcome.
2. Write like you want it
Write in a way that leaves no doubt you want the job and will do it well. You don’t have make things up or over state your capabilities, but try to do the following:
- Emphasise the benefits of your solution, not just the features. Features (eg low employee turnover) are the starting point but benefits (ie long serving staff that understand procedures, translating into consistently safer work practices) help you sell.
- Talk to the reader, not at them. Instead of saying “we have done X, Y and Z before”, say, “we will work hard to see you receive X, Y and Z throughout the contract.”
- Mention the client name early and say it at least as many times as your own company name. Eg “XYZ council will receive quality assured services backed by our ISO certification process and well established quality procedures.”
- Change passive language such as ‘would’, ‘could’ and ‘can’ to the active version. Eg “We will do this for you.”
3. Use evidence
Unsubstantiated claims stand out like a sore thumb in tenders. A statement such as ‘strong commitment to safety’ is meaningless without evidence to back it up – such as your safety record, HSE system or induction process. Sometimes all it takes is a sentence (and perhaps a reference to more information later on). But you can do much more than that to prove your worth – such as photos of specialised equipment or staff training sessions, scanned procedures or accreditations, staff training registers, customer testimonials and letters of support.
4. Provide value for money
Providing value for money is particularly important for government and council tenders. If you can show the reviewer how you’re willing to help them be more efficient or add more value, you’ll do well. Don’t confuse price with value. A lower price will not necessarily be better than value added outcomes, innovative service, increased efficiency or unique tools or systems. Any time you can deliver greater performance, reliability, safety or quality, or transfer benefits or knowledge to the purchaser, you’ll be improving your offer.
5. Be professional
A tender is a business transaction, so take the time to be professional. Write a brief cover letter that introduces your company, thanking the purchaser and quickly summarising the 3 top benefits of your solution. If you have the opportunity (depending on whether you need to use a template form or not) put your response in a professional document layout. Take staff photos, write bios and use pull out quotes throughout the document to highlight benefits. One great way to emphasise ideas is by using diagrams. Anything that involves steps, follows a procedure or has complementary activities can be presented in diagram form and it looks much more professional than a block of text.
You still need to be able to perform the requirements of the tender, of course, but if you can incorporate some of these ideas into your submission you’ll stand a better chance of standing out from the crowd.