When tender writing, you can be faced by a challenging task. Although you may be a subject matter expert in your industry, writing an effective bid requires a distinct skillset. You need to understand the rules of the game, and then take a considered, measured approach to writing a winning tender.
When tender writing, it is easy to get caught up in a whole host of documentation which can be overwhelming and an onerous task to complete. It is important to firstly understand the tendering process and what you may be looking for in a tender contract.
Before you jump headfirst into writing the responses to the questions set out in the invitation to tender (ITT) document,make sure to:
Read the tender contract specification very carefully. Then read it again. Highlight any areas that need attention, such as the buyer’s priorities or key themes that you will need to address in your responses. You should also identify how to submit the response, the deadline, formatting guidelines, attachments and word/character counts. Do not leave this until the last minute: it is important that your bid is compliant, otherwise it could fail.
Read each question with your own questions in mind. Why are the contracting authority asking this? What information are they looking for? Deconstruct each question in the tender contract to help focus on your response – this should also make the bid writing process easier and breaks the response down into manageable sections.
Make sure you raise any clarification questions in good time, as the clarification deadline may be significantly before the submission deadline. You may wish to clarify elements of the specification, nuances of tender questions, or your eligibility to bid. It may also be helpful to read the clarifications from other bidders in case someone else has asked something of note.
Be persuasive, not descriptive, and frame the key benefits of your proposal in terms of advantages to the buyer. How can you help them achieve their objectives? Keep in mind that the evaluator needs good reasons to award you the tender contract – ultimately you must meet their criteria and more.
Make sure your answers are comprehensive. We often see failed tenders with one sentence responses to questions. Word limits provide an indication of how much depth you are expected to go into: if there is a word limit of 500 words, a one-line answer will not suffice. Always expand on your answers and give as much detail as possible.
Keep to simple language within your responses. Remember that your intention is to communicate clearly the benefits that your organisation can bring to the contract. Flowery words will not gain you extra points and will just make your submission harder to read and evaluate. If allowed, visuals can also help to reinforce your point and provide evidence for your submission. The use of tables, images, screenshots and graphs will make your bid stand out and break up pages of written narrative.
Make sure you clearly reference the question numbers in your responses, and make sure that any evidence is labelled correctly. Otherwise, you can’t complain if they don’t consider it during evaluation, and your tender could even be marked as non-compliant. In a tender it is better to be overly-compliant – and do not make any assumptions about the evaluator.
Make sure you provide evidence for the claims in your responses – you cannot rely on the evaluator to take your word for it. Reports, statistics and even testimonials can help to convince the buyer of your organisation’s strengths. Unfortunately, it is not enough to just say you are the best firm for the contract: you must be able to prove it and make sure the tender submission represents everything you want the evaluator to know about your company.
Have your submission proofread and reviewed by someone who has not been involved with the preparation of the tender contract. A professional, fresh pair of eyes can spot costly mistakes and weak areas. In the SQ or PQQ part of the bid there are likely to be tick box exercises – do not forget that a wrongly ticked box could cost you the whole tender contract.
Your tender should be professionally presented with a consistent design throughout. First impressions are often crucial, and you want to be perceived as professional, polished, and serious about the tender process. Check in the specification how the tender is to be submitted. If you are allowed design elements, then ensure your bid document is professional. However, if you are submitting via a portal there may be restrictions on this.
If you would like more information on tender writing, we offer professional bid writing courses to help you succeed in winning future bids. Training is tailored to the organisation’s requirements, and guides you through the whole bid writing process, with the end goal of securing more contracts for your company.
How do you write a tender?
There are many steps to take when writing a tender to ensure the best possible submission. Companies often fail by making very simple mistakes that can easily be avoided. Check out some of our top tips in the video below:
If this seems a little daunting, Executive Compass can help you. Contact us today to find out how we can work with you to secure more contracts.