Insights from tender reviews: where people go wrong most often

Writing a tender response is a big undertaking, not least because there can be so much at stake. For many businesses, engaging in the tender process is one of the main ways that they secure new business so ensuring your tender bid is tight and persuasive is crucial. One way you can ensure your bids are hitting the right note is to undertake professional tender reviews. These independent assessments are brilliant for identifying where any weak points in your submissions may lie. So, where do people go wrong most often?


You may be the ideal candidate for the contract. However, if your writing lacks clarity, if it doesn’t set out your understanding of the potential client’s needs and your solution to those needs in a clear and compelling way, then your message may never see the light of day. In a sea of other submissions, it’s essential that your bid stands out from the very first page by engaging readers on the assessment panel.

Of course, not everyone can write in a clear and compelling manner. But a professional tender writer can. Consider investing in the services of a professional tender writer to boost your chances of winning that all-important contract. 

Incomplete understanding of requirements

If you misinterpret the requirements outlined in the tender document, your proposal may offer solutions that just don’t align with what the client actually wants and needs. 

For example, if a tender is calling for responses from providers with specific experience in equally specific areas – say, extensive experience in providing specialist health care recruitment services to remote areas of QLD – then that is exactly what is required. If your response describes your experience in providing these services only to major cities in NSW and VIC, then you have not understood the requirements.  

Another way in which you may show that your business has not fully understood tender requirements is if you propose what the tenderer considers to be unrealistic deliverables or timelines. If these are unattainable within the project’s scope then it’s a good indicator that you haven’t grasped any contract constraints or even the complexity of the work required. Honesty really is the best policy; you should only commit to what you can realistically achieve.

Failing to address all key criteria

If your tender bid either completely overlooks or simply downplays critical criteria spelled out quite clearly in the tender documents then you’ve missed the mark. Key criteria are statements about the clients priorities and objectives, so you should be doing your utmost to provide evidence that you understand the criteria and have the ideal solution to meet those criteria.

Ignoring key criteria will at the very least lead to the tenderer losing credibility in your company and in your company’s ability to perform the requirements of the contract. Let’s say one of the key criteria was to have a specific type of software in place. If your business doesn’t have that software, then you must say so. You can certainly indicate that you will undertake to implement that software upon being awarded the contract. You can certainly say you don’t have that software and give a perfectly good reason why not. But ignoring addressing that requirement altogether? That’s an absolute no-no.

Lack of a unique selling point (USP)

The tender process is ultra-competitive – it’s your business against goodness knows how many others. It is absolutely essential that you have a very clear message as to what makes your business head and shoulders above the rest.

So, in developing that USP that makes it obvious how your business brings value that no other can; how this is a big advantage over the competition; and what makes your offer to the tenderer the best offer they’ll receive, the crucial thing to remember is that your USP should emphasise how it will satisfy the potential client’s stated needs and wants.   

To name but a few examples, your USP could be related to:

  • Track record. What are the companies and clients that can vouch for your capabilities?
  • Price. The tenderer isn’t always looking for the lowest price, but they will always want to be sure they’re getting value for money
  • Accreditation. Are you the only company in Australia qualified to perform the required tasks at a specific standard?
  • The type of service and products you can provide. Is what you provide unique? Unavailable elsewhere? Market-leading quality?
  • Innovation and creativity. Have you a new solution for an age old problem? Do you have a creative take on how to answer the potential client’s needs? 
  • Location in relation to the tenderer or reach across Australia
  • Your team. Do they have skills that are industry leading? Have they had experience on similar contracts?

Leaving out important details

NB: When it comes to writing a tender response we recommend taking the view that all details are important.

But leave out any detail required by the tenderer and you will give the very clear impression that you didn’t read the RFT properly. 

It may be that in the rush to get your submission in, you did not thoroughly peruse all the documentation. Sometimes, important requirements are almost buried in the masses of paperwork that comprises an RFT, so take care to read everything very carefully indeed.

Not enough proof of capability

The onus is on you as the bidder to make it crystal clear to the tenderer that your business has got what it takes to manage this important contract. In other words, you need to provide evidence of your capability. Without that evidence, you risk appearing less credible.

Proof of capability can be demonstrated, for example, by using current or previous projects or experiences that closely match the tender requirements. Take care to describe these in sufficient detail, linking key outcomes to the outcomes desired by the potential client to meet their needs.

Capability can also be demonstrated by describing your team and their strengths – think about their knowledge, experience, availability, skills, roles on similar projects. Describe how all of these attributes make them the dream team for this contract.  

Importantly, ‘capability’ also applies to your risk management abilities. Your submission must include that you have considered the risks associated with the contract, how you have assessed them and what steps your business will take to mitigate them effectively

Another way bidders can fall short on demonstrating capability is by not providing sufficient documentation of certification or accreditation, for instance. It could also include a lack of case studies, client testimonials, or references.

Remember, if you do not provide sufficient proof of your capability, carefully linking it to the tenderer’s stated needs, then you may be perceived as being of higher risk than other bidders.

Ignoring instructions

Tenders – and in particular, government tenders – frequently include a long list of administrative requirements which, if not met, will make the bid non-compliant and lead to immediate disqualification from the assessment process. For example, font size, margin requirements, document structure, and word count limits. Not providing responses in the stated order or not filling in mandatory sections could also see your bid fall foul of the assessors.


A poorly presented submission speaks volumes about your business. It certainly makes a bad impression. So, put yourself in the tenderer’s shoes. If you received a hastily put together submission, littered with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes it could indicate:

  • A lack of professionalism. Does a lack of care about this important bid document indicate a general lack of care across your business? And how would that lack of care translate itself into your management of the project?
  • A lack of clarity. Will your messages come across loud and clear to the prospective new client? 
  • Poor communication skills. If your message is poorly conveyed, how easy will it be to communicate with you throughout the project? Will any errors in communication end up being costly contract errors too?

It’s always surprising how many businesses think that the presentation of their submission is somehow not all that important. But it is! 

A professional-looking bid should, ideally, have a graphically-designed cover, a table of contents, sharp images accompanied by clear captions and error-free content. At the very least and wherever possible, tender bids should be professionally proofread.

Professional tender reviews

An independent, thorough review of your draft tender conducted by a professional tender writer is the ideal way to help your tenders be on the right track for success. The expert tender writer will ensure that your submission:

  • Is fully compliant will all tender requirements
  • Makes clear your USP
  • Sets out your offer and expertise
  • Is presented in a way that is easy for the assessment panel to read and digest
  • Answers every question fully
  • Is free of typos and grammar mistakes,

Get your tender review today

When the next important tender opportunity comes your way, why not make contact with the team that’s won hundreds of millions of dollars in new business for its clients over more than 24 years in the business? We write tender bids that win and we’re ready to apply our expertise to reviewing your tender draft and ensuring it’s the best it can be.

So get in touchtoday or give us a call on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 and we’ll assist in any way we can.  

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