What is tender writing? Your guide to competitive tender submissions

What is tender writing?

At first glance, you might think writing tenders is simply piecing together a professional document. But it’s so much more than that. 

Tender writing is the craft of creating a detailed, persuasive document that showcases your company as the standout choice for a specific service or product. While most are familiar with writing government tenders, many tenders are also issued by private and listed companies. Instead of reaching out individually to multiple suppliers for individual quotes, organisations will float a tender, creating an open invitation for businesses to make their best pitch.

Mastering the art of writing tenders

Entering the world of tender writing is like stepping into a carefully choreographed dance. It’s more than just stringing words together; it requires a meticulous blend of strategy, comprehension, and a touch of persuasive flair. Here are our tips for writing the perfect tender. 

Know your RFT or RFP inside out

The absolute foundation of tender writing is in understanding the Request for Tender (RFT) or Request for Proposal (RFP) front to back. It’s not just about skimming the surface; it’s about immersing yourself in every detail. The magic lies in the details, so take a deep dive deep into the scope of works, and make sure you fully understand the nuances of the contract and the deed.

Take careful note of what the response needs to include, such as response schedules, compliance documents such as polices, insurance, an Indigenous participation plan, and sometimes a statutory declaration. Start collating them early to avoid a mad rush at the end. Remember, in the competitive world of tenders, success hinges on your ability to pay attention to every single detail. 

Highlight your unique value

Tender writing is about showcasing the value that you will bring to the potential client. This is called your ‘value proposition‘ and it’s the golden thread that ties together your submission. It’s a clear statement that explains how your product or service solves the client’s problems, delivers specific benefits, and tells the client why they should choose you over your competitors. In essence, it’s the promise of the value you’ll deliver if they award the contract to you.

Consider this: If the client is eyeing cost-effectiveness, spotlight how your enterprise’s size and purchasing prowess mean you can offer competitive pricing that smaller counterparts can’t match. If rapid service is their top ticket? Then your nationwide network, pledging a four-hour maximum response time, is music to their ears.

But here’s the real key: Don’t just list your offerings. Articulate them in a way that underscores the tangible benefits to the potential client. It’s about evolving from mere features to undeniable benefits. As Dr Tom Sant, renowned in the realm of persuasive proposals, notes, 40% of businesses issuing tenders stick to the status quo simply because the alternative’s true value hasn’t been highlighted convincingly.

Your value proposition should cover:

Solution to a problem: This is where you identify the challenges or problems the client is facing and explain how your solution addresses those specific problems.

Unique differentiators: Here, you define what sets you apart from the competition. This may be your innovative approach, proprietary technology, industry expertise, or even a robust customer support system.

Tangible benefits: Clearly lay out the benefits of your solution. This could be in terms of time saved, costs reduced, increased efficiency, or any other measurable outcome that is valuable to the client.

Client-centric approach: Your value proposition should be framed around the client’s needs and desired outcomes, not just what you offer. This means understanding and communicating how your offering aligns with the client’s objectives, vision, and values. Remember, it’s all about making you the easy and obvious choice.

Prove your worth

Earning trust is pivotal. You need to make the person assessing the submission confident that they’re making the right recommendation – that choosing your product or service will be good for the business, and for their reputation. To achieve this, you need to prove to them why you’re better than anyone else. You will need to:

  • Show them how you’ll effectively manage the service or project
  • Explain who the key personnel are that will manage the contract and why they have been chosen
  • Detail the special equipment or skills you possess.

Then, you’ll need to provide concrete evidence supporting every claim you make about your organisation. By proving your worth and credibility, you reassure prospective clients of your capabilities. This could be in the form of:

  • Case studies: Undoubtedly crucial, they offer real-world evidence of your prowess
  • Location maps: Show where you’re situated and where you operate
  • Client testimonials: A few words from satisfied clients can speak volumes
  • Feedback metrics: For example, your NPS score or other survey findings
  • Recognitions: Any business awards or honours you’ve garnered
  • Media mentions: Positive press showcases your industry reputation
  • Certifications and compliance: Highlighting standards that you meet, like ISO ratings.

Don’t miss out on essential documents

Overlooking mandatory documents can be a fatal mistake. This is where reading the RFT or RFP and preparing documents ahead of time comes into play. Be meticulous about the documents which are required, which may include policies, certificates of insurance and CVs. Any oversight can lead the procurement team tasked with reviewing the tender assuming you are non-compliant and knocking you out at the first round. After all your hard work, it would be very disappointing to fail at the first assessment.

Writing perfect tenders

Crafting a winning tender isn’t just about writing; it’s about strategically communicating your business’s unique value. It blends sharp, professional prose with a marketer’s flair. When you’re writing a tender, keep in mind:

  • Clarity and brevity are your best friends. Many tenders miss the mark because they don’t get straight to the point. Always be mindful of word count limits – any words over these limits won’t be read and you’ll have wasted your time.
  • Nine times out of ten, tenders come with a specific response template. Stick to it; it’s there for a reason.
  • Make your tender resonate. Instead of floating buzzwords like “game changer” or “state of the art”, ground your response in concrete evidence of your value. Don’t just talk – show. 
  • Keep it about your prospective client. It’s not about you; it’s about how your offering aligns with the prospect’s needs. Start your paragraphs with your prospect’s name and weave in ‘you’ and ‘your’. It’s more engaging and centres your narrative on them.
  • Embrace the active voice for a crisper, more compelling message. For instance: Active: “We are submitting our tender. Versus Passive: “This tender is being submitted by us.” By using an active voice, like “Rosemary writes about tendering”, instead of the passive “This article on tendering was written by Rosemary”, your tenders become more direct and dynamic.

Visualise your value

Graphics aren’t just decorative – they’re powerful tools to convey your message more effectively. Research from the University of Minnesota suggests that pairing text with relevant graphics can boost persuasiveness by 47%. Wherever feasible, amplify your content with visual aids like diagrams, flow charts, and photos to drive your point home.

Examples of graphics which you might include are: 

  • A professionally designed cover for your tender 
  • Organisation charts displaying your team structure or account management hierarchy
  • Methodology flowcharts for clear process understanding
  • Bar graphs demonstrating potential savings with your product or service
  • Engaging images of your team, facilities, and product range
  • Recognition snapshots, like photos of awards received
  • Quick view icons for certifications, insurance proofs, and industry affiliations
  • Logos of your prestigious clientele
  • Eye-catching client testimonials, presented in standout boxes
  • Defined, colour-coded headings and subheadings
  • IT solution previews, like dashboard screenshots.

Proofread, and then proofread again

Before submitting your tender, rigorously proofread it. While a flawless document might not be your sole ticket to success, typos will diminish your credibility. Go through each line meticulously, ensuring clarity, accuracy, and coherence.

While you’re checking the document over, triple check you’ve included every document or attachment specified in the RFT or RFP. It’s often the small oversights that can tip the balance, so give your submission the thorough review it deserves. 

Proof Communications, owner of Tender Writers, has professional proofreaders to give your tender a thorough proofread. Plus, our dedicated tender writers conduct comprehensive reviews of draft tenders, ensuring nothing is overlooked before you finalise your submission.

Need expert guidance?

Tenders take time and dedication, so it’s worth putting in that bit more effort to make it perfect and worth your while. Don’t leave your tender’s success to chance.

For help with the management and writing of your tenders and proposals, contact Tender Writers today on 0448 566 377 or 02 8036 5532 or email chrissy@proofcommunications.com.au.

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