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Article Details

Published Date: 5-03-2024
Author: Executive Compass
Category: Tender Writing & Bid Management
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Most organisations will encounter a time when they need to tender for a specific contract – it may be to expand and grow, or it may be to continue working with a certain supplier as the incumbent. In both the public and private sector, tendering is the most common way of securing work.

Above all, tendering is a competition, and the most advantageous tender (MAT) bidder will be selected through the tendering process to work with the buyer on the contract. Our team of bid and tender writing experts at Executive Compass have worked with thousands of companies tendering for contracts, and provide our top tips for how to win tender contracts.

1. Review your chances of success

Drawing upon our experience of why companies don’t secure contracts, the first place to start in the tender process is with identifying the correct tender opportunity. But before diving straight into writing your tender, you must undertake a thorough review of the tender opportunity, to determine your chances of success. This is commonly known as the ‘bid/no-bid’ decision.

At this stage you can evaluate your likely competitors, analyse the specification and the buyer’s strategic aims, and review your company’s experience and differentiators, to determine if it is a good contract for your organisation. For example, meeting the mandatory minimum criteria such as a financial threshold, or holding the correct accreditations – if not, the tender opportunity may be a non-starter.

Alternatively, if you do meet the mandatory minimum criteria, but feel you do not have the experience, resource or skills to win the tender, it may have to be a ‘no bid’. Be realistic in your analysis and decision-making, as this can save valuable time that could be used to improve more competitive submissions.

Taking a more strategic approach to bidding will improve your chances of success and be a better allocation of both time and resources.

2. Tender writing and planning

Once you have assessed your chances of success and found them to be high, next comes the actual tender writing. Considering how to win a tender through your writing is all about planning, being persuasive and always keeping the wording of the question set in mind.

Do not fall into the trap of writing a bid that reflects the services you would prefer to deliver – winning tenders has to be what the evaluator wants to read and what they have asked you to include. Break the question down into constituent parts, stick to the evaluation criteria and let these elements guide your submission for the individual opportunity in order to win a tender.

Check out our full list of top tips for tender writing and our bid writer’s top 10 tips, including:

  • Carefully reviewing the contract specification, highlighting the key themes and priorities of the purchasing authority in order to create a project-specific answer plan which is tailored to the opportunity
  • Answer planning all quality responses to ensure you address all aspects of the tender question and nothing is missed or omitted, enabling you to gain the highest possible marks for the tender evaluation committee
  • Raising clarification questions around anything unusual or conflicting information within the specification or tender documents, ensuring you receive understanding in good time
  • Writing persuasively and emphasising the benefits of your contract-specific offerings, framing all aspects of the submission in a positive light and adhering to the evaluation guidance
  • Using simple, concise language within your tender, eliminating technical jargon or specialised technical terminology to make clean, clear and easy-to-read responses
  • Provide evidence-based information to substantiate your claims within a tender submission, in the form of case studies, KPIs and statistics from previous contracts to demonstrate your organisation’s capacity, capability and suitability.

It is also crucial to ensure sufficient quality assurance processes cover each element of the tender submission. An impartial member of your bid team should review each response, making comments and suggestions where necessary, before a final draft is proofread by an additional pair of eyes.

3. Ensure you cover the ‘must-haves’

It is good practice to ensure your tender submission includes everything the buyer has requested in a clear and accessible format to remain compliant and ultimately win the contract.

Typically, this will be the following:

  • Trading history, including trading name, duration of trading, turnover and fiscal health, demonstrating your organisation is in good financial standing.
  • Relevant experience, usually shown in case studies that are relevant to the tender contract. These can be both public and private. Please note that when using case studies to demonstrate technical and professional ability, the organisations used as case studies might be contacted to provide a reference.
  • All suitable memberships and certifications for your industry sector – for example, Care Quality Commission for health and social care or Gas Safe registration for gas servicing, maintenance and installation
  • A unique selling point (USP) to set your company apart from competitors
  • Solid organisational structure and appropriate staff for the contract.

4. Bid review

The bid review process applies to two stages of tendering. Firstly, when submitting the bid, ask someone from your organisation who has not been involved in writing the bid review to check the key elements, such as: Does it answer the questions? Have we portrayed ourselves favourably? Have all the documents been completed and attachments provided? This will provide a good foundation for self-verification that you have submitted a potentially winning bid.

If there is an occasion when you are not successful with a bid, learn from it! Continual improvement is crucial when considering how to win a tender. Following the steps outlined below to drive continual improvement will aid in achieving higher success rates the next time you respond to an invitation to tender:

  • Always request feedback from the buying authority – it will support your organisation’s learning and development, enabling you to improve scores and ultimately win a tender.
  • Undertake a post-bid review to determine what scored well and what didn’t, making sure this is noted when repurposing content for future submissions.
  • Review underperforming areas for your bid and actions – Do you need to review your social value strategy? Were your case studies not up to scratch? Allocate appropriate time to complete.
  • Enlist support or improvement plans ahead of the next bid – do not leave it until the last minute, particularly as public sector tenders typically have a four-week submission window.
  • Review your tender writing – do the style, win themes and formatting support the strongest possible submission?

And, most importantly, make sure you don’t make the same mistakes on the next tender opportunity.

If you still have questions about how to win tenders, then get in touch; we are always happy to help!

And if you don’t have the time to complete a bid, you can turn to expert bid and tender writers at Executive Compass. Our professional in-house bid writers have years of experience and complete dozens of tender submissions each year, ensuring they are ideally positioned to support your organisation to win a tender.


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