Many have asked us for tips on how they could produce winning tender proposals and win more tenders using TenderBoard. When trying to answer a question like this, it is always tempting to jump straight to discussing specific tactics for writing successful proposals.
However, let’s start by asking “What does your tendering process look like?”
Putting a structured tendering process in place ensures that the right questions are being asked when you are tendering, and that only quality proposals with a good chance of winning are submitted.
If you do not already have a process that works for you, we offer these 5 steps as a potential starting point:
Step 1: Know when tenders are released, or better yet, before they are released
Knowing when tenders are released is the first step to ensuring that you have as much time as possible to prepare your proposal. You need to have a system in place that updates you when relevant tenders are released.
If you are able to anticipate when tenders are going to be released, you would have an even bigger advantage. This not only gives you more time to prepare, but also the opportunity to influence the tender. Incumbents, and those with deep networks, naturally have the advantage here. However, if you have neither, looking at past data could help to level the playing field a little. In some cases, studying when previous tenders were awarded allows you to make guesses when the next tender would be issued.
Step 2: Research the opportunity
Understanding the circumstances of the tender is the next step. Some of the questions we ask are: Is this a tender for renewing or extending an existing service? If so, who is the incumbent, what was their winning price and what did the other participants bid at that time? If not, are there comparable tenders to guide us?
Researching the past data sheds lights on many questions that will help us move forward. Of course, just looking at past tender alone is not enough, we will have to rely on your domain and industry knowledge as well. Having these 2 components sets us for the next step.
Step 3: Bid no bid decision
This is one question that does not get asked often enough: “Bid or No Bid?
Making bids on tenders should never be an automatic decision. Each bid costs something and consumes your most precious resource: manpower. Our research (read our blog about industry reports here) shows that in many industries, more than half the vendors who place bids do not win a single tender over the span of a year, and for those who win anything, the average win rates are around the 20% range. (Quick question: do you know your current tendering win rate and how that compares to your industry?)
Bids should only be made if there is a good chance of winning. There are exceptions to this of course. For example, there may be a tender for an existing system that has an incumbent for the past 5 years and perhaps you feel that the only way you can get a proposal in front of the right people is to go in low and hope they at least call you in to meet. Such strategic calls are definitely part of tendering, just be sure they are conscious decisions. The rest of the tenders should meet a strict “Bid or No Bid” criteria that supports your overall tendering strategy.
Step 4: Pricing strategy
Once you have decided to go ahead with the tender, the next step is to think about your pricing strategy: do you intend to be the lowest cost supplier? Or the highest? Somewhere in the middle? By the way, it isn’t true that the lowest bidder always wins. Our research revealed that this occurs only 40% of the time. 50% of tenders are won by proposals that had neither the lowest or highest price, meaning that 10% were won by the highest bidder! (read our blog about this research here)
Step 5: Answer the tender
Finally, the last step is to prepare the proposal itself. The most important thing is to be in this mind frame: Answer the tender. This means that your proposal has to answer what the tender is asking for and to leave no questions in the evaluators’ minds if possible (for ideas on how to do this, read our blog How to write winning tender proposals.). You need to address their main concerns and let them understanding that you know what you are doing and that you can deliver. Submitting a compliance table, marketing brochures, and a price list is not going to be enough in most cases. If you can make it easy for the evaluation team to submit your tender for approval (or make it hard for them to reject it), you would be in good shape.
We hope this has given you some food for thought and maybe even get you started with a process for tendering success! Get in touch with us to let us know what you think or if you wish to find out how TenderBoard can help you with these 5 steps. Having said that, there isn’t a one size fits all, do you have other steps or processes that have worked for you? Share your thoughts with us with a comment below or via our contact form.