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The 10 Elements of Successful Tendering
In Australia more than $30 billion is spent through the tender process yet many businesses underestimate their opportunities to reap the rewards of creating lucrative contracts. I have seen many businesses that are too busy to respond to tenders and find ways to win the tender. I have asked many companies about their policy for responding to specific tenders, only to find that none have been forthcoming. I have asked companies what criteria they used to determine which tenders to respond to, only to find again that there are none. This is not a good start for any tender, especially when we consider the number of hours it takes to submit a tender.
It is important to recognize that a winning submission is the end result of a chain of well-presented events. This chain starts with the tender selection process and ends with the final presentation to the tender board.
Why is a tender submission the most important sales document you’ll ever write? It’s easy. The documentation you submit is the only basis on which the buyer can make a decision and judge your company’s ability to deliver the requested result. In other sales situations, you can follow up the proposal with a telephone call and discuss any areas the buyer is unsure of. Being able to follow up on a proposal also opens up further opportunities to sell the benefits of your company’s products or services. Yet in a tender situation the document must sell all aspects of the project and offer a better solution than the competition.
The first factor is the existing relationship When responding to tenders it is important to identify whether you are suitable for the contract on offer. There is no point in responding if you do not have a clear understanding of the company or organization seeking the tender. It is important to gather intelligence about the tenders available in your industry. This will give you valuable information and knowledge of market potential, who your competitors are and what solutions buyers are currently looking for. Depending on the industry, many tenders are recurring and constantly come up for resubmission, so you can prepare yourself to respond more effectively to future offers. This allows you to educate and inform as well as build relationships with potential clients which dramatically improves your chances of being invited to tender.
A great source of information on tenders is the notice companies that can provide you with information on tenders relevant to your industry that are readily available on the Internet.
2nd factor – Be one of only a few responses Many tenders are won before publication. When a company publicly asks for expressions of interest, it has already invited others based on previous relationships to tender for a future project. These organizations will typically go to 3 to 5 suppliers to determine who will be the best provider of the solution. They will then publish tenders to respond to other potential suppliers in the market. If you are invited to tender, your chances of winning are dramatically improved because the organization requesting your response has an understanding of your capabilities to deliver the project. It is therefore important from a strategic point of view to build relationships that value potential market opportunities.
Third Factor – Does the Tender Fit Your Marketing Strategy? An important question to ask in your tendering process is what other opportunities are there around the tender? For example, if a company is looking for a recruiting firm to consult on developing systems and processes to help build their human resources capabilities, does the company need executive recruiting assistance as an additional service? This will be outside of the original tender request and may be one of many opportunities available for additional work. Another question to consider is whether the tender will create a strong strategic alliance. This means that by joining a company, they can open the door for you to do business with their clients or other areas of the same company, and they can use your expertise to add value to their clients. This will dramatically improve your chances of doing business with like-minded companies.
4th Factor – Is your tendering team resourced and available? As mentioned earlier, a tender is the most important sales document you will ever write. To increase your chances you need to prepare yourself to respond efficiently and effectively. You need to clearly differentiate your service and your process, and you need to prioritize tenders correctly so that you meet your submission deadline. You must have selection criteria that determine whether you are ready and able to respond and whether the tender fits your ability to deliver. It’s also important to improve your team’s writing skills so you can communicate effectively in your submissions. Allow for extra staff or help while you’re tendering, or bring in outside help to help pull your document together. You’ll need all the help you can get to meet your big project deadline.
5th Factor – Pre-prepare 75% of your document before release You can prepare templates for most of your documents in advance before the tender is published. This will dramatically improve your ability to respond because you will have the following pre-prepared:
- Your mission statement
- Company background
- Executive summary
- Referees and Testimonials
- Current business activities
- Financial Statements
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Quality assurance certificates
- Training program
The presentation of the submission should be decided and designed in advance. The management process for your document should be running. Your cover, tabs, figures, and text layouts should be pre-made, and an image library with templated graphics for use on your documents should be available.
6th Factor – Do you have a competitive advantage? It is important to identify your competitive advantage in your tender. There must be a clear indication of what makes your company a clear competitor to win the contract. Things you should consider in showing what sets you apart from your competitors are: you may have specialist services; Your distribution systems are sophisticated; Your team’s expertise is highly technical; Your service is geared towards solving the frustrations of people related to your industry; And you can provide comprehensive backup and support beyond the standard. A major consideration may be that by using your services, you will reduce their cost and increase their bottom line. Part of your differentiation is your pricing strategy. The following points should be considered:
- Remove non-related marketing costs from pricing
- Consider the lifetime value of the client, not just the tender
- Consider the value of future sales opportunities that come from existing relationships
- Consider the strategic benefits of external relations
7th Element – Clearly convey your understanding of the buyer’s culture, requirements, and value in the submitted solution Five things that can dramatically demonstrate your understanding of buyers’ needs:
- Write in a way that reflects the buying company’s culture (use their vocabulary and style in your writing)
- Clearly explain your needs and demonstrate that you have the ideal solution
- Explain your value for money
- Show your compliance and non-compliance
- Write in the same order as the features (Question and Answer Approach)
Five ways to avoid tender mistakes:
- Failure to work ability – not including case studies or referees to describe competence
- Trying to teach the buyer a lesson (they already have an idea of what they want so stick to it)
- Critiquing tender requirements
- Failure to answer questions or submitting pages upside down and spelling mistakes
- Submitting bids after its deadline
8th Element – Presentation and Submission To set your document apart from your competitors, it needs to stand out from the crowd – you want them to be drawn to your document. Here are 7 things to consider:
- Get your tender out of the pile first – use their images to reflect their corporate branding so the document represents them (make sure you get permission from the buyer if you’re using their images and logos)
- Reflect the layout of tender details
- Show a level of commitment to winning in submissions
- Keep the reader’s interest visually (use flow charts, images and graphics throughout the document)
- Make it easy to find specific sections of a document (use tabs to separate different sections)
- Keep color testimonial with photos on file for digital print
- Use digital printing to pick up the presentation of your document and use quality stock for printing (use laminate covers and paper that enhance the photographic quality of your images).
9th Element – Your Ability to Deliver This is very important – make sure you are able to deliver on the contract. It includes meeting budget, delivery, service and technology. If there are additional costs involved outside of the tender, make sure you clearly articulate the potential for increased investment and the procedures for doing so. Remember this is a legally binding contract so check everything before you deliver your document.
10th Element – Further tender and sales opportunities Evaluate ongoing relationships with the organization such as your credibility for future tenders and future inbound sales opportunities. Delivering a high level of service during the contract will dramatically improve your chances of renewal. Submit ongoing reports with the same level of commitment as your tender document for consistency. It should be very easy since you have all the information from your research. Tendering is an exciting game that can generate huge amounts of business whether you are a small to medium enterprise or a large corporation. The point here is that preparation and strategy are the keys to a winning tender submission.
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