10 things successful bidders do to win a tender

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Written By Ginny Hales

The winning response to an RFQ for tender doesn’t just tick the right boxes, it successfully communicates synergy.

A winning response to an RFQ for tender could boost your business dramatically in terms of revenue and reputation. Crafting such a response means you, the tenderer, must approach each step of the proposal with care so it’s not just a box-ticking exercise.

Read on to learn more and gain key insights into winning your next tender bid.

What is the tender request? Who is making it? Image of colleagues holding each other's arms.

Two key elements of a winning response are your capacity as the tenderer to understand what the buyer needs and how to present yourself as the ideal provider. An important first step is to analyse the tender request by carefully reading each question.

Become acquainted with every requirement, the evaluation criteria, and specifications found in the ITO (invitation to offer). Next, consider how well-placed your business is to meet them, and how you plan to communicate this.

It’s important to research your buyer. Find out what makes them tick, and why they are going to tender. If there are any briefing sessions, make sure to attend. There, you can identify and engage with key people to establish rapport and a deeper understanding of the tender.

Business is all about relationships. Take your relationship with the buyer seriously from the get-go sets you in great stead and could differentiate you from the other bidders.

Sell yourself as if they’ve never heard of you.

That’s right. When answering each question, confirm your business’s suitability based on the assumption the evaluator does not know you. Include your resources, skills and capabilities, your capacity to meet deadlines, and whether you meet the technical and legal requirements.

This fit to supply tool from the Queensland government can help you determine if your business can meet the tender requirements.

Aside from understanding your buyer inside out, this step of confirming suitability is critical. A good response to an RFQ  demonstrates knowledge of the buyer’s needs, and how well you can fulfil those needs. Spark the interest of the evaluator by highlighting your synergies and how you can help them advance their priorities.

References: worth their weight in gold

The strength of your reference from a previous client is important to consider, as is the reputation of the client providing it. References must back up your claims that you are the right business for the job, in particular how your previous experience relates to what you are pitching for now.

If you don’t have government experience, talk about your commercial knowledge and expertise. Explain how you plan to increase your capacity to meet their requirements.

Keep your friends close, keep your frenemies closer: know your positioning

Positioning is understanding your place in the market and how well you are suited to serve the client versus your competitors. According to Tenderlink’s Tendering Survival Guide, the best ways to figure out your positioning are: get to know your client, get to know your competitors, and define your competitive advantages. For more, refer to their blog.

Get in the buyer’s head

Consider your response not just from the angle of ‘what I have to provide,’ but ‘what does the buyer need?’ Getting into the mindset of what the buyer needs will ensure your buyer feels heard, and then what you must provide to satisfy their needs will come naturally. You need to be persuasive in your approach by delivering a compelling story.

Tailor your marketing strategy

Your marketing strategy will determine how you market your business for the purposes of the tender. Much like the narrative you create around fulfilling their needs, your key marketing messages should speak to the synergies between you and how your values align. Get this messaging right and the buyer will see you as the obvious partner to get them over the line.

Prioritise your CSPsImage of colleagues discussing about a document.

As with choosing a consumer product, the brand with a good warranty and easily contactable customer service line trump their competition. The same goes for bidders in a tender process. For that reason, it is important to prioritise your CSPs (customer service proposals). CSPs can be the winning ticket and are often overlooked in terms of their worth. A detailed, comprehensive CSP reassures the buyer they will receive a high level of ongoing care and could be the deciding factor between you and another business winning the bid.

Plan, plan, plan

Plan your tender proposal by engaging all staff concerned and setting up a progress schedule to support the process. Identify one individual as the coordinator who has the responsibility of managing the master document. To show the client you have robust time management practices and are committed to their timeframes, plan to submit your response before the deadline, not by the deadline.

Try working backwards from the tender deadline, keeping in mind each milestone that needs to occur before the tender is submitted. Project management software can be helpful for larger projects, although an Excel spreadsheet with a checklist works just as well.

Remember to include value-added and social value initiatives

Buyers will be receptive to value-added initiatives in your proposal such as non-payable factors like service, quality, risk, and sustainability, and which align with the buyers’ goals and objectives. There is increasing demand for social value initiatives like various economic, social, or environmental conditions built into the delivery of public contracts.

Time to review

This is an exciting time, but also when that extra last push is needed to ensure every requirement has been fulfilled. Review your communications from the buyer in case there has been any extra information or document requested along the way which you have missed. If for whatever reason you cannot meet one of the requirements (perhaps you need to partner with another supplier to do so), make sure you have explained this clearly and comprehensively.

Green for go

Hit send and feel proud of having worked hard to reach this point!

See also: How to Tell your Business Story (and Give Netflix a Run for its Money)