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Tender Writing Why Some Tenders Fail

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There are many reasons why a tender submission might not meet the mark. Usually it comes down to the fact your business is not best suited to your client’s requirements.

Sometimes, however, it can be down to a simple administration error. To discover your company lost a tender due to an oversight, or as a result of a rushed submission, can be particularly upsetting. Tender writing can be a stressful activity and it is easy to miss something.

It can be difficult to discover exactly why your tender did not meet the mark, especially if it is a private sector tender and the client does not have a set protocol for informing the tenderer why they failed. That is why it is so important to have a pre-submission system. Reviewing and last minute checking should be done in a systematic and consistent way to ensure that no omissions or errors are submitted with your tender.

Common errors that must be avoided are:

  • Missing documents – where the tender documents ask specifically for various policies or supporting documentation, omitting these attachments is a grave error. Unfortunately this is the real, grown-up business world, and unlike your professor at university, your client will not chase up your missing documents. What is more likely to happen is that they disregard your tender entirely. They have lots of god companies to choose from. A company that can’t even meet the basic documentation requirements is an easy dismissal for them.
  • Basic administrative errors – failing to sign the documents before sending, spelling mistakes, failed ‘copy and paste’ and late submissions, or submissions to the wrong person, can all exclude your tender from the process. Your buyer is looking for competence in all areas and wants a supplier that has its back office systems in place. Many contracts have cumbersome paperwork and sometimes regulatory requirements. Not being able to submit a tender document correctly casts aspersions on your company’s ability to fulfil those requirements.
  • Not answering the question asked – if this happens on one occasion it may be overlooked if you have a sympathetic buyer. A Whilst this is unlikely, submitting a tender with multiple errors like this will exclude your tender from the process immediately. Your buyer is looking for specific answers to specific questions. Not understanding the question and fluffing it to make it look like you have understood will be obvious to your buyer, especially when they have multiple other tenders on their desk where the answer reflects the question. If there is anything you do not understand in your tender document, you must seek clarification from your client. They should be happy to discuss it with you and will find this preferable to a bluffing answer.
  • An inconsistent and unclear tender – this relates to the point above and the outcome is that same. An honest tender would more than likely tend towards being consistent. It is difficult to say one thing in one part and quite another in another section when you are telling the truth. Your buyer will notice inconsistencies and ‘fluffing’. If your tender raises doubts as to what exactly you are offering or promising, you are more likely to be excluded in favour of a tenderer who has clearly and consistently laid out their proposal.
  • Developing a checking procedure prior to submission is the ideal way to avoid all of these errors. It is important that a third party, a party who has not been involved in writing the tender goes through the checking procedure. Fresh eyes will be able to pick out the above errors quickly.

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