Don’t forget these four things when writing tenders, proposals and bids

When you boil it all down, there are four key things assessors are looking for in your tender response. These are the key indicators that will point the assessors to your company as being the right one for the job.

How you will bring value

When writing a tender response your executive summary will state your clear understanding of the prospective client’s needs, demonstrating that you ‘feel their pain’. It will also sum up how your product or service will meet those needs.

Executive summaries must emphasise the key points that you make in your tender responses. After all, the executive summaries in tenders are exactly that – a summary of what you understand the prospective client’s needs to be and how you will fulfil them.

So it makes sense that your tender response should be equally unambiguous about the prospective client’s needs and how you plan to fulfil those needs. The best way to do this is by making sure that your tender response sets out how you will address the prospect’s stated priorities.

For example, is pricing a key issue for the prospective client? Then outline the advantages of your pricing: it could be your business’ size and buying power that gives you access to pricing unavailable to smaller companies. Or, is speed of service another client ‘must have’? Then your Australia-wide network of technicians guaranteeing a maximum response time of four hours is exactly what they’ll want to hear about.

The point here is that your tender needs to explain the value that you will bring. By employing a little focus and putting “value” at the forefront of everything you write, your proposals will pack a real punch.

Dr Tom Sant, an international proposal guru, says value matters most when:

  • You’re trying to knock out an accepted incumbent
  • You’re changing a process that will make your client’s life easier, but doing so may mean operational changes or potential loss of jobs
  • You’re proposing a shift of control, such as moving money or resources from one area of your client’s business to another
  • Doing nothing is a viable alternative for your client.

In fact, according to Dr Sant, 40% of businesses that issue Request for Tenders or Proposals choose to remain with the status quo because they can’t see – or haven’t been shown – the real value of change.

As humans, we all have a natural aversion to loss and doing nothing is by far the easiest way to overcome it. Our cognitive bias means we overplay the risk of loss compared to the opportunity for gain.

The people charged with assessing your submission need to justify their choices up the hierarchy; they have to be confident they’re making the right recommendation – that choosing your product or service will be good for the business, and for their reputation. Naturally, they will be concerned (although they wouldn’t dream of voicing it) that they’re making the wrong decision.

Coupled with this is our status quo bias. We assume that what we already have is better, or at least no worse, than the other options on offer. We work on the principle that “it’s better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t.” It’s a bit like our attitude to banks – we grumble about fees and interest rates but believe that no one bank is better than the rest, anyway. And, working on a second principle that “ignorance is bliss”, we don’t want to risk finding out that this may not be the case.

Fundamentally, as Dr Sant explains, clients want to know what their return on investment will be, which may be mostly any or all of the following:

  • A good rate of return
  • Improved financial performance
  • Operational efficiency
  • Reliability for mission-critical systems

How you will manage the service or project

Writing a tender is your chance to spell out how you’ll ensure the contract runs smoothly from start to finish. The addresses the prospective client’s need for operational efficiency. Describe your ability to meet all the business and operational objectives of the contract including, for example:

·       Service delivery standards·       Administration and record keeping
·       Management roles & responsibilities·       Managing key business relationships
·       Performance management·       Negotiating contract variations
·       Dispute management & resolution·       Ethical business conduct
·       WHS·       Compliance and audit
·       Risk management·       Account management

Who will be managing the contract

The prospect wants to know not just which key personnel will manage the contract but why they’ve been chosen. What are their specialties? What is their experience? What similar contracts have they worked on? What benefits will they bring to the prospect? Rather than merely listing names on a page, help your prospect imagine they’re already working effectively with your people by including well-written employee profiles matching their experience and skills to the client’s stated needs. And include a head and shoulders photo of each to key team member to personalise your response even more.

The special equipment or skills you possess

You may well be a big cheese in your industry, but never assume that the prospect knows you. The assessors may be from procurement and have never heard of your business.

While it’s always important to set out the details of your ground-breaking methods, the in-depth experience of your staff, or how cutting edge your equipment is, it’s vital to quantify and strengthen your claims. For example, include award wins and accolades and short client testimonials; use images and graphics to highlight price comparisons, before and after statistics, and cost or time reductions. Showing and not just telling is a really powerful way to get your message across and helps make your tender a more engaging read.

Over the past two decades, our tender writers managed and written literally hundreds of successful tenders, helping companies to win millions of dollars in new business.

Whether you’re writing a tender for the first time, or this is your hundredth time, partnering with the professional tender writers at Tender Writers can help you increase your opportunity for success. Get in touchor ring us on 02 8036 5532 to learn what we can do for your business.

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