Top tender writing tips and frequently asked questions

Every year, billions of dollars’ worth of tenders are released by government, listed companies and private businesses. That’s a very sizeable pool of work from which your business could well benefit. However, whether you’re a large commercial venture or a boutique provider, to be a serious contender for a piece of the tender action you must create a persuasive argument that positions you for a successful tender bid. Read on for some top tender writing tips to get you started.

The benefits of bidding

Anyone who’s ever tendered before will tell you that putting together a successful tender bid can be a lot of work. Even if you wisely invest in the services of a tender writer, you’ll still need to devote time and resources to creating a successful tender response. So, is it worth it? The short answer is: Yes!

If you win the contract, your business will enjoy a steady income stream for a significant period of time. Some contracts extend over several years – a big plus. Such a reliable source of income could alleviate financial pressure, giving you and your workforce surety of employment. It could also allow you to expand your business or invest in new processes. What’s more, winning gives you the chance to establish or further cement business relationships with other valuable industry contacts.

Even if you don’t win the contract, the exercise of writing a tender response will hold up a mirror to your business, showing you where your strengths and challenges are. You can also leverage insights into what the tenderer required to gain helpful buyer insights. What’s important to them and how can you tailor your business to meet their needs in future?

What does a tenderer want to see in a bid?

Excellent question! When it comes down to it, there are four major points that an assessor will want to cover off when reviewing your tender submission. They’ll want to know:

  1. How will you deliver the service or product? A successful tender submission will unambiguously set out how your proven service strategy will exactly meet the tenderer’s stated priorities.
  2. How will you manage the service or project? It’s here that you need to make clear how you can meet all the business and operational objectives of the contract. Everything from performance management to dispute resolution; service delivery standards to WHS.
  3. Who will be managing the project? In addition to the names of key personnel, you must give evidence for why you’ve chosen the team you have. What are their skills and how do they align with what the contract requires? Have they worked on similar contracts? It’s always a top idea to include clear head and shoulders images of your key team members too.
  4. The special equipment or skills you have. The tenderer may well have absolutely no idea of your business or its capabilities, so it’s up to you to quantify your claims. You can do this by not only clarifying the particular skills you offer and the methodologies you use, but through award wins and accolades, price comparisons, clear imagery, and informative graphics that highlight price comparisons, performance ratings and cost savings, for example.

Top tips for tender writing

We’ve written over 1,000 successful tender submissions over our more than two decades in business. Here are our top five tips on how to create winning response.

1. Your offer must be clear and compelling

The assessors must be in no doubt about two things: that you completely understand the client’s needs and how you’re going to meet them.

So, first up, decide upon your strategy. Read the RFT thoroughly and identify what the client is looking for, how you can meet their needs, and the top 3 or 4 benefits of choosing your business for the contracts.

It’s all about setting out not just your price, but what value you bring to the table. Remember, the assessors will almost certainly be looking for more than just the cheapest price; they’ll be looking for what else you offer that makes choosing your business the natural choice. Is it buying power? Speed of service? Delivery reach? Whatever it is, make sure to articulate the value that it offers.

2. It’s not all about you

One of the most common mistakes in tender writing is when tenderer’s make the bid all about them, often barely mentioning the prospective client’s name.

You can avoid this classic rookie error by making your submission focus on the prospective client by using their name and ‘you’ and ‘your’ wherever possible. For example, ‘We offer fast delivery all around Australia’ is not of nearly so much interest to the prospective client as ‘ABC’s clients across Australia – including those in remote and regional areas – will benefit from our fast, reliable delivery service. Deliveries are made within 48 hours’ (if 48 hours is a value add).

3. Set out how you’ll deliver the contract and how the client will benefit

In answering tender questions about your business operations, processes, qualifications and more, use these points as a way of showing the client that they can expect a smooth and stress-free experience from beginning to end.

Ensure your responses reassure the client that, in choosing your business, they can have peace of mind that tried and tested procedures and policies are already in place as a matter of course. There is no risk of them being used as a guinea pig for any aspect of the contract.

4. Provide proof

It’s very tempting to include statement like ‘we’re the leading provider of’ or ‘we offer unbeaten value’ or ‘unique processes’. Steer clear of such claims unless you’ve got the facts to back them up.

Case studies, industry accolades, client testimonials, media coverage and survey results are all great ways to add veracity to your claims.

Case studies in particular are excellent. A brief description of how you helped a client overcome their challenge and why your solution was innovative or optimal will help to add weight to your argument of being the best fit for the contract.

5. Never submit a tender without checking it

We cannot stress this highly enough: always leave sufficient time to thoroughly proofread your final draft. If possible, engage a professional proofreader to do this for you. They’ll pick up a host of errors and inconsistencies that you won’t.

And, to avoid the risk of non-compliance and subsequent automatic disqualification, don’t forget to double check that you’ve attached all required documentation. Then check again.

FAQs

How can a tender writer help me?

The first thing your professional tender writer will do is take time to understand your business and discuss with you your key differentiators. They’ll then write concise and compelling responses to each question included in the tender. Importantly, they will also ensure you organise all additional client material and lodgements to ensure your submission is 100% compliant with every tender requirement.

How much does it cost to engage a tender writer?

We take two factors into account when providing a fee estimate:

  1. The complexity of the tender
  2. What relevant information, materials and resources you already have that can assist in the response.

We’ll look at the Request for Tender or Request for Proposal documents to see how much content we need to write or whether we can use any of your existing material. That’ll give us a good idea of how much work will be required to create a compelling response.

Our full tender writing service is based on hourly rates. We carefully assess the requirements of the RFT or RFP and provide a fee estimate. A finished tender can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $20,000 plus GST, sometimes more. Keep in mind that the value of the contract to your business will help you decide whether engaging a professional tender writer is practical.

A review of your draft tender by one of our professional tender writers is usually between $1,750 and $3,000 plus GST.

We also review previous tender in our tender audit service. In this, we forensically review 2-4 of your recent tenders and provide you with a short report that gives you real, tangible examples of how to improve your tender writing and presentation for your future tender opportunities.

I want to apply for a government tender. How can a tender writer assist?

Government tenders are very detailed and require a tenderer to complete an enormous amount of paperwork. For the uninitiated, this can be very daunting. If you’re unsure of what you’re doing, it’s very easy to be non-compliant – the reason why some 60% of submissions for government tenders never make it through the first cut.

A professional tender writer knows how to interpret the tender’s exact requirements and ensure that your response remains in the race.

What’s the format for the tender writing process?

After our review of the Request for Tender or Request for Proposal – and any previous tender responses you may have – we’ll begin with a kick-off meeting by phone or video conference.

We’ll prepare a timeframe clearly showing responsibilities and deadlines for the response to keep things on schedule. Once we receive your retainer payment, we’ll begin work on the first draft.

A tender response will generally require several versions as it’s being created. Once it’s finalised, we’ll edit and proofread the final version to ensure your business is shown in the best possible light.

Will engaging a tender writer help me win?

There are no guarantees that you will win. However, a professional tender writer will ensure your tender submission is fully compliant and of the highest quality, improving your chances of success.

What’s more, you can easily repurpose the content created by a tender writer for use again and again in future tenders.

How do I know when new tenders are released?

A quick Google search will display several subscription services that feature a contact service for new tender opportunities. You can also register for a free service offered by state and the Australian governments.

How do I find a tender writer with extensive experience in my industry sector?

A professional tender writer may well have experience in your particular industry. However, a tender writer’s specialty is in knowing how to write compelling and fully compliant tender responses, rather than specialising in a specific sector. The key consideration is that you feel comfortable with the tender writer you choose for such an important collaborative effort.

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