It is usually inevitable that when you start putting pen to paper to write your tender or you finalise details with your outsourced tender writer, you concentrate only on your offering and your chances of winning the bid. Whilst this is understandable and is unlikely to lose you the tender, you are writing with extra ammunition when you write from a position of knowing your competitors inside out.
Know your competitors
Tender writing is, of course, expensive and time consuming. Much of your organisational resource is focused on writing a comprehensive, winning tender and the last thing you need to think about is finding extra resource to do a spot of competitor analysis. There are, however, a few clever ways you can do the bulk of this competitor research outside the boundaries of the tender writing period which will put you in a more knowledgeable position when it comes to producing your next bid.
Once a contract has been awarded, the awarding client often publishes a list of tendering organisations and includes their offering and their pricing. By developing a system of recording and storing this information, you should, over the course of few opportunities, start to build a comprehensive database on your competitors. Many of these competitors will be competing for the same opportunities, time after time, as your own organisation.
Building a competitor database is a similar idea to customer profiling, whereby sales professionals gather as much information on clients or potential clients as possible (although detailing the birthday of your closest competitors elderly mother is probably a step too far!).
Profiling your competitors from freely available information as a matter of course gives you a solid foundation on which to build a comprehensive competitor analysis database. Once you have the framework in place, you can build on this over time with other snippets of information and research that arises during the course of normal business. Building such a profile of each of your competitors gives you a reference tool that can be utilised each time you approach a tender opportunity and yet it does not absorb a huge amount of time and resources when built up gradually.
Knowing what your competitors are offering, at what price and with what innovations and ‘hidden extras’ is an extremely valuable weapon, especially if there is one in particular that keeps winning over everyone else. Historical financial data and company credit information is also available from either Companies House or Business Research organisations, which will further enhance your profile collection.
Although it sounds obvious, one of the key factors in building a competitor database, conducting competitor analysis and spending time gathering information is using the information to your advantage. It is all well and good knowing everything there is to know about your main competitor (including his granny’s birthday), but what use is that information if you do not apply it to your own tender writing.
You must identify your competitors’ strengths and endeavour to make them your own strengths if possible. You must also identify their weaknesses and demonstrate clearly in your tender how your organisation does not suffer from those weaknesses (without resorting to writing bad things about your competitors!). You will also be able to anticipate your competitors strategic to response to varying situations and tender requests amend your own response accordingly once your database begins to grow.
Overall, what competitor analysis allows you to do is to offer superior value. When you know the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘where’ of your closest competitors you will be in a better position to outdo your rivals and increase your chances of writing winning tenders.