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Tendering is a process that builds knowledge and understanding of the customer and your own company’s strengths.

Tenders are often stressful processes, requiring considerable investment of time and resources to meet the ever compressed response timeframes. But as an organisation in a tendering process, you have an opportunity to learn more about yourselves and your customers’ needs for every day of the tender.

Unfortunately there is no fast track solution in the world of tendering. Companies that take the easy way out, by recycling previous responses and attaching standard documents, are seldom successful.

The reality of tendering is that it is a time consuming exercise. Most companies, particularly small and medium enterprises, still need to fulfil the commitments of their ‘day job’ while responding. And even organisations with large in-house tendering teams need to work for their tender wins.

But tendering is usually where the big opportunities lie and one tender win can make the difference between a flourishing and a dwindling business. So it’s worth investing in the process.

Win or lose, consider every tender as an opportunity to grow as a company. Treat tendering as less of a tick the box exercise and more as an opportunity to learn and innovate. It is in articulating how your solutions can meet a particular customer’s requirements and documenting your strengths that you can truly understand how you can compete in the market.

Your potential customers invest a lot of time in putting together a very detailed specification for what they are looking for – we need to take the time to read and understand, and build a solution to their unique challenges. It is an incredible opportunity to innovate your product or service offering to align more closely with the market. You just have to buckle down and work through it.

Think about ‘what is important to this customer?’, ‘what does it take to make this project successful? and ‘why will we win?’.

Focus on project risks in your responses, before describing how you will solve them. Show that you have an understanding of the challenges the customer faces before talking about your company strengths. This makes for a strong response, and one that recycling tendering text will never achieve.

Finally, whether you win or lose the tender, make sure you ask your customer why. A debrief win meeting is just as important as a debrief loss meeting. Take the learning into your next tender process – just as you implement learning from one project into the next. Then you will get a return on your investment during the tender process, even if you don’t win the contract.

So the next time a large tender document comes across your desk, consider it as a chance to develop your product or service offering in a direction closer to your clients’ requirements. It’s worth the investment.

Enjoy the process!

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