Five top tips for winning tenders

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We provide commercial advice to businesses at each stage of the procurement cycle: from winning tenders through to contract delivery and beyond. Here we’ve outlined how to win tenders with our top tips and what to do when the procurement process goes wrong. 

Top tips on winning tenders

1. Clear, concise and compelling:  

  • Avoid waffle. All that is needed is a detailed enough answer without the waffle and always make sure you use the documents provided to issue your response. It’s good practice to use the Invitation To Tender (ITT) document as your response, adding in your answers under each question. This will make sure that you get the right and relevant information in the right place and don’t forget to keep within the word count. Make sure you don’t change them to PDF as this makes the evaluators job much harder.
  • Be clear and brief. Add visuals such as diagrams, graphs, or illustrations, where they assist in conveying more involved ideas. Make sure it is clear what you are saying. 
  • Use spell check. You would be surprised by how many bids spell the name of the company or persons name wrong. Make sure these are correct as there is nothing worse than someone not taking the time to make sure they use the correct name. 

2. Always make sure you:

  • Sign It! Make sure you sign all documents in the tender that require it. This is especially important with public sector contracts where there may be things like a “form of tender” or “Acceptance of terms and conditions” or “Declaration of Interests” etc. 
  • Choose the Right References. When providing references always make sure that they are as relevant and as similar to the work you are bidding for. Sometimes public sector organisations will be looking for experience working for their type of organisation as well as experience in doing a similar job.
  • Do Your Research. See if there are any other opportunities which you might be able to help them with, and always ensure you offer a lower cost or better-quality option.
  • Check Your Bid. Always make sure you check for spelling and grammar mistakes and make it look professional 

3. Figures are fundamental:

  • What’s Your Pricing Strategy? Before pricing, you need to consider how much you want or indeed need to win the tender. You may want to get an 'in' to an organisation and be willing to make very little profit on the first job, or be bidding for a contract with very little competition so can afford to price it a bit higher. Whatever applies, your price must be competitive. 
  • Submit Accurate Quotations. If you don’t, this is where things can go wrong!

4. Final thoughts

  • Don’t Wait to Submit Your Bid. Do not wait until last minute to upload your bid. All tender portals are secure and will not allow the buyer to see any documents or pricing before the deadline has passed. 
  • Get Feedback! If you’re not winning tenders always get feedback on how the successful bidder scored better than you and any other information which may help your future bids. Public Sector organisations are legally obliged to give you feedback.
  • It’s Not Just about The Tender. Your bid begins the moment you reach out to your prospective client, so make every email and call count. Build value and rapport from the very first exchange and ask questions that can assist you in writing a better tender. 

What to do when the process goes wrong 

Things to look out for:

  1. There may be something wrong early on. See if you can deal with it as part of the clarification questions.
  2. Check that the standstill letter complies with the requirements. If you are suspicious of the results raise this as soon as possible.
  3. If the evaluation process has not been carried out in line with the ITT ask for the documentation evidencing the marks given and ask for an extension of the standstill period to give you time to review this properly and take legal advice.

If something does go wrong, you need to:

  • get all the relevant documents together;
  • instruct legal specialists as soon as possible; and
  • act quickly to protect your position. 

If there is something wrong with the process and you do not issue a claim to protect your position within 10 days of a contract award notice being issued, you will not be able to stop the contract from being awarded. If you do not take action within 30 days of you knowing there is a problem with the procurement, you will be prevented from doing anything about it.  Do not wait to see how you do in the competition before getting advice.

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