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Successful Tender Writing

Executive Compass Branding

When you open your presents at Christmas time it is a little like when the evaluator opens your tender submission.

A perfect tender, like a perfect present, must contain exactly what the evaluator is expecting. So how do you ensure that your tender is just what your client wants?

You have slaved over your tender writing project for weeks (or months), you have collected, collated, analysed and selected your best material. You may have created a special tender writing or tender management team; allowed people time to focus on the bid and provided incentives for winning. However, have you done the two most important things which ensures successful tender writing?

1. Found out what the client really wants

2. Presented it simply in a clear and easy to follow format

For the entire plethora of tender writing services and advice available it really does come down to these two simply tenets.

What the client really wants

Too many people write tenders that contain information on what they have to offer. Instead they should write tenders on what the client really wants. What they have and what the client needs should be one and the same and sometimes they are, but too often the tender writer focuses on the wrong things. Yet, this can easily be avoided by simply reading the specification and any other supporting information provided within the tender. Too often those people writing tenders fail to read the invitation to tender properly (especially if they are familiar with the client) and rush headlong into providing inappropriate solutions to problems that don’t exist.

Read the specification carefully (twice), make sure you understand it and what the client really wants before you even begin to write your tender. You can often glean very useful information from the website and any published articles. Look for any strategic partnerships they may have or any recent partnering agreements, this should indicate to you what types of things the client prioritises and what types of companies they prefer to work with. Read as much as you can and conduct as much research as you can. The companies that research and take the time to find out what the client really values are the ones that have the most success at writing winning tenders.

In my experience, the absolute worst at researching are those companies who already deliver the services. Incumbents lose tenders for a variety of reasons but the most common is complacency. If you are going to write a tender as an incumbent, by all means use your knowledge of the client, but try to take a blank canvas approach. Take nothing for granted and make sure you clearly articulate your point and the advantages and benefits you can provide.

Simple and easy to follow format

Tenders should be written clearly, in easy to understand language and should have a clear and logical structure. You do not have to be a trained detective to know that, but I am amazed at how many tenders are sloppily written, have no consistent theme and are difficult to read without any coherent message.

1. Use clear everyday language in your tender. It is not a competition for the longest words. Use words that evaluators can understand and that are easy to read.

2. Do not create impenetrable sentences. Keep them short, sharp and make sure every word counts

3. Include a table of contents, cross reference everything and label your supporting evidence in a logical way. Supporting evidence must be relevant to the tender and not simply a brochure or list of services.

4. Structure your tender so that it tells a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Make sure that each individual section of the tender is consistent and that the sections do no contradict one another

5. Use clear everyday language- I know I have already said this once. BUT every single tender I read is full of overblown hyperbole. Tone is down, keep it simple and answer the question.

Focus on benefits and key themes, make your tender easy to read, no contradictory and the shorter the better!

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