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The 10 Elements of Successful Tendering
More than $30 billion is spent through the tendering process in Australia, but many companies are reducing their opportunities to capitalize on the results of generating lucrative contracts. I’ve seen many companies that are too busy responding to tenders to stop and look for ways they can start winning tenders. I asked many companies about their strategy for responding to certain tenders, but found that there was none. I asked the companies what criteria they used to determine which tenders they should respond to, but again I find that there are none. This is not a good start for any tender, especially considering the number of hours it takes to submit a tender.
It is important to remember that a winning show is the end result of a chain of well-executed events. This chain starts with the tender selection process and ends with the final presentation to the tender committee.
Why is the offer submission the most important sales document you’ll ever write? It’s simple. The document you submit is the only basis on which the buyer can make a decision and judge whether your company is capable of achieving the desired result. In other sales situations, you can follow up the proposal with a phone call and discuss any areas the buyer is unsure about. The ability to track a proposal also gives you additional opportunities to sell the benefits of your company’s products or services. But in a tender situation, the document must sell all aspects of the project and offer better solutions than the competition.
Element 1 – Existing Relationships When responding to tenders, you must determine whether you are the right fit for the contract being offered. There’s no point in responding if you don’t have a clear idea of the company or organization that requested the quote. It is important to gather information about the tenders available in your industry. This way you will gain valuable information and knowledge about the market potential, who your competitors are and what are the current solutions that customers are looking for. Depending on the industry, many tenders are repetitive and are constantly available for resubmission, so you can prepare to respond more effectively to future offers. This also allows you to educate and inform and build rapport with potential customers, dramatically improving your chances of being invited to bid.
An excellent source of information about tenders is information companies who can provide you with information about tenders specific to your industry. These are easily available on the internet.
Element 2 – Be one of only a few to answer Many tenders are won before they are published. When a company makes a public request for expression of interest, it has already personally invited others based on previous relationships to submit a bid for a future project. These organizations typically approach 3 to 5 suppliers to determine who will be the best solution provider. They will then publish a tender and open the response to other potential bidders in the market. If you’ve been invited to bid, your chances of winning increase dramatically because the organization that asked you to respond understands your ability to deliver projects. Therefore, from a strategic point of view, it is important to build relationships that add value to potential market prospects.
Element 3 – Does the tender fit your marketing strategy? One of the key questions to ask yourself in the tender process is what are the other opportunities related to the tender? For example, if a company was looking for a recruitment firm to consult on the development of systems and processes to help build their human resources capabilities, then as an additional service the company also needs help with executive recruitment. This would not be part of the original tender requirement and could be one of several opportunities available for additional work. Another issue to consider is whether the tender will create a strong strategic alliance. This means that by working with a company, they can open doors for you to do business with their customers or other areas of the same company, and whether they can use your expertise to add value to their customers. This will dramatically improve the chances of working with like-minded companies.
Element 4 – Is your tender team resourced and available? As mentioned before, the proposal is the most important sales document you will ever write. To increase your chance, you need to prepare for an effective and successful response. You need to clearly differentiate between your service and your process, prioritizing the offer accordingly to meet the submission deadline. You must have selection criteria that determine whether you are willing and able to respond and whether the offer matches your performance capabilities. It is also important to improve your team’s writing skills so that you can communicate effectively in your submission. Allow for additional staff or assistance when you bid, or bring in outside help to help you put together the document. You’ll need all the help you can get to meet the big project deadline.
Element 5 – Have 75% of your document pre-prepared before publication You can prepare most of your documents in advance before the call is published. This will dramatically improve your responsiveness as you can prepare the following elements in advance:
- Your mission statement
- Company background
- Judges and testimonials
- Current business activities
- Financial statements
- Security and health at work
- Quality assurance certificates
- Training programs
The presentation of the contribution must already be decided and designed. Your document management process should be in place. Your cover, tabs, diagrams, and text layout should be prepared in advance and have an image library available that contains template graphics for use in your documents.
Element 6 – Do you have a competitive advantage? It is important to recognize your competitive advantage in your offer. There must be a clear indication of why your company is an obvious candidate for the contract. Things to consider when incorporating that show what sets you apart from your competitors are: you may have specialized services; your distribution systems are state-of-the-art; the expertise of your team is highly technical; your service is aimed at solving the frustrations that people in your industry have; and you can provide extensive backup and support that goes beyond standards. The key factor may be that by using your services, you will reduce their costs and increase their bottom line. Part of your difference is your pricing policy. The following questions should be considered:
- Remove unrelated marketing costs from pricing
- Consider customer lifetime value, not just the offer itself
- Consider the value of follow-up sales opportunities arising from existing relationships
- Consider the strategic benefits of external relations
Element 7 – Clearly express your understanding of the customer’s culture, requirements and values in the proposed solution. Five things that can dramatically demonstrate your understanding of customer needs:
- Write to reflect the culture of the purchasing company (use their terminology and style in your writing)
- Clearly express your understanding of the requirements and demonstrate that you have the ideal solution
- Articulate your value for money
- Prove your compliance and non-compliance
- Write in the same order as the specifications (question and answer approach)
Five ways to avoid tender mistakes:
- Inability to perform work – does not include case studies or judges to illustrate competence
- Trying to teach the customer a lesson (he already has an idea of what he wants, so stick to it)
- Criticizing tender requirements
- Not answering questions or sending flipped pages and misspellings
- Submission of offers by the deadline
8th element – presentation and submission If you want your document to stand out from your competitors, it needs to look different from others – you want your document to attract them. Here are 7 things to consider:
- You take the offer off the top of the pile first – use their images to reflect their company branding so that the document represents them (if you use their images and logos, make sure you get the buyer’s permission to do so)
- They reflect the layout of the tender specifications
- Show a level of dedication to winning the show
- Keep readers interested visually (use flowcharts, images and graphics in the document)
- Simplify searching for specific parts of a document (use tabs to separate different parts)
- Have color testimonials with photos in a digital print file
- Use digital printing to enhance the presentation of your document and use quality print stock (laminate covers and use paper that enhances the photographic quality of your images)
9th element – Your ability to achieve goals This is very important – make sure you can fulfill the contract. This includes meeting budgets, distribution, service and technology. If there are any additional costs outside of the tender, be sure to clearly articulate all the potential opportunities for increasing the investment and the procedures for doing so. Remember that this is a legally binding contract, so check everything before submitting the document.
Element 10 – Further Tenders and Sales Opportunities Assess the value of ongoing relationships with the organization, such as your credibility for the next call and follow-up sales opportunities coming from within. By providing a high level of service for the duration of the contract, this will dramatically improve your chances of renewal. For consistency, present ongoing reports with the same level of engagement as your tender document. This should be very easy since you have all the information from your research. Tendering is an exciting game that can generate huge amounts of business, whether you are a small or medium business or a large corporation. The bottom line here is that preparation and strategy are key to a successful bid.
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