There’s no doubt that preparing a tender response can be daunting, especially the first time your company decides to through this very formal process. But, like most things in business, it helps to break it down into several smaller steps.
Follow these 6 simple tender response tips to help your business position itself for tender success.
Carefully read the tender documents, then read them again
Give yourself time to fully understand what you need to do. Make sure you read all the addendums and supporting documentation. Take notes and use a highlighter if you need to. There are very good reasons for taking as much time as you need before responding to the tender.
It lets you start to form your response in your head, and know what business units need to become involved in collecting the required information.
A thorough understanding of the tender gives you the chance to be honest with yourself about your chance of success. Tender responses are time consuming and you need to decide if your response is worth spending time, effort and resources on.
Start with a project plan
If you decide the tender is worth pursuing, appoint a project manager. This is especially important for large, multifaceted tender responses that need input from across business units. This person’s first job is to develop a project plan or Gantt Chart, working back from when the tender is due. The plan needs to identify who needs to supply information and by when. You will most likely need input from WHS, finance, business development and your core operational units. This plan needs to clearly articulate milestones and deadlines. Remember, due dates for tender responses are pretty fixed in stone. You leave this too late, and you’ll miss the opportunity.
Answer the criteria, and meet the word count
This seems obvious, but it’s often missed in the eagerness to promote your company. You must diligently and methodically answer each question on the request for tender. And do it within the required word count. Use statistics, case studies and media coverage to provide evidence of your claims. Call the contact person on the RFT if anything is unclear. They won’t hold your hand through the process – and they can’t show favouritism – but it is in their interest as well to make sure you understand what you need to do.
It’s not all about you
Don’t get me wrong, a tender response is your chance to highlight your business and all the great things it does. But, to be fair, the end client cares about just two things: what their problem is and how your offering solves it. So, you need to phrase your response in relation to benefits to them, rather than concentrate on the features of your product or service. For example, instead of proudly announcing “ACME Metal Fabricators was established in 1973”, show how this longevity benefits the client with regard to stability, experience, knowledge, and integrity. Make it clear to the tender evaluation team that your business is exactly what they need.
Don’t neglect the structure and style
While the content is important in your tender response, don’t overlook the structure and style. Most tender requests are notoriously poor examples of plain English, but that doesn’t mean your response has to follow suit. Ditch the jargon, keep it snappy, use active voice and don’t use a big words when a small one will do. Plain English writing makes it easier for the person reviewing the tender to understand your business capability. And clear structure, with headings, subheadings and dot points, breaks up large tracts of text so it is not overwhelming. Diagrams, charts, graphics, photos and a project plan can also help break up the text, if the tender allows for them.
Bring in an expert
While your budget might not stretch to hiring a tender response expert for the entire project, think about engaging an external third party with experience in tenders to do a final tidy-up before submission. Hire them to identify gaps and ensure your response meet the criteria. It helps if they also have some skill and experience as a copyeditor or proof reader to check for typos, spelling errors and grammar,
You can also contact your state or territory ICN office. We have Industry Specialists across the country who can help you prepare your expressions of interest when submitting on ICN Gateway.