There may be many reasons why the tender submission you slaved over for weeks didn’t make it past the first cut. It’s frustrating because you gave it the worksfacts, figures, examples, pie charts and graphs. But impressive looking as your offering undoubtedly was, if it didn’t demonstrate your clear understanding of the buyer and what they hoped to achieve, the sad fact is it was never going to fly.
· How well do you know the company or government department you’re pitching to?
· How does their business operate and what do the industry jungle drums say?
· Where do they pitch themselves in their market and what are their business ethics?
· What’s really important to them as a business?
The whole focus of your tender application needs to be on the buyer and their problem, not on your business and how good you are. It’s imperative to gain valuable insights into what the customer is really asking for and how it will help them reach their business goals.
So how can you find out what makes the buyer tick?
If you already have a working relationship with the company, make good use of your contacts to discover what challenges the business is facing and what new directions it is seeking to pursue. Remember that your solution needs not only to answer the immediate issue out for tender, but is an ideal opportunity to set up a lasting business partnership.
It goes without saying that you should attend every tender briefing. Information overload can prevent you getting a clear picture first time round, so continued attendance increases the chances of your proposal hitting the mark. Take time to stay behind after the presentation and introduce yourself to the speakers. New contacts are never wasted and may be able to give you valuable guidance as you continue through the tender process.
The internet also provides a treasure trove of information that can be helpful in getting to know more about your customer and how they work. Annual reports, trading figures, media releases, shareholder reviews and much more are all available if you simply take the time to look.
Don’t forget to check YouTube for news items and video clips of interviews with company executives or employees. Nuggets of useful information can often be found in this way.
Once you feel you really understand the buyer, their immediate need and their future business goals, it is then that you can begin to summarise all that you know to be relevant and evaluate how your response will meet these needs. Then, you can progress to setting out how what you are offering will differ from the competition.
As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. And, when it comes to writing winning tenders, demonstrating knowledge of your customer is powerful stuff indeed.