What Every Buyer Wants
Once you have written your bid or tender, the next stage will be getting it evaluated. Your aim is to achieve the maximum marks possible and to do this, you need to think about the buyer and what he or she will need from you.
We know that some procurement processes are very well defined. Some buyers describe their scoring criteria in great detail and provide this to potential suppliers. When this happens, tender writing becomes very straightforward because we have clear guidance about the areas the buyer thinks are important.
Some buyers are less clear about their requirements. This may be because they are not following procurement best practice or because they themselves are unclear about the product or service they are purchasing. When this happens, the supplier must take control of the bid or proposal process and give the buyer sufficient information to allow them to see the advantages of their particular offering.
Here are the top 5 things buyers need:
1. How you are going to approach the project, what you will do and in what timescales
This information is often given in the form of method statements and project plans but a narrative or diagrammatic approach works well too.
The buyer will want to see an approach described that is specific to their contract. If they receive generic statements they will assume that you have not studied the individual opportunity. They will be concerned that you are applying a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The timescales should be clearly defined and linked to the individual parts of the approach.
2.Who they will be dealing with and what is expected of them during project delivery
Irrespective of whether it is a product or a service that is being bought, the buyer will want to know who is involved.
You may want to include staff CVs and a detailed organisational chart or perhaps just a brief overview of the team and their respective roles. If you are relying on subcontractors or external suppliers, the buyer will want to know their credentials too.
Some projects require staff from the buying organising to input time or resources. If this is the case, you should state what is expected of them.
3.How much they will have to pay
One of the biggest frustrations for buyers is not being given clarity on pricing, particularly when optional items are offered.
The buyer needs to evaluate your submissions alongside many others and so needs to be able to compare ‘apples with apples’. While it is useful to offer alternatives and options, always make sure you give them prices for the items or work packages they have defined.
Whatever price you quote, the buyer needs absolute certainly of what this includes. Presenting a list of ‘deliverables’ can be a good way of achieving this.
4.Confidence that you will deliver what you say you will deliver and there will be minimal risk to their own reputation or project objectives.
No buyer wants to take unnecessary risks. This means they need to be told how risks in areas such as quality, safety, on-time completion and reputation will be minimised.
One good way to minimise risk is to give evidence of past performance in the form of case studies or references. Other ways include explaining that credible processes and procedures will be used or committing to KPIs (key performance indicators).
If you are able to link the project timescales to delivery milestones, this will give the buyer confidence that you will be accountable at interim stages throughout the project.
5.Details of any extras they will be getting from you. This could be areas such as added value, innovation or community benefits.
The reality of many bid and tender situations is that there will be a number of different suppliers who are all capable of delivering a good job at a good price. If you can offer the buyer something ‘extra’ that they value, you will gain more marks that your competitors.
Some buyers value extended service contracts while others like flexibility with scope. Some need to show their stakeholders that they support SMEs or deliver community benefits while others will see value in increasing their own knowledge about a product or process.
It is usually possible to include a number of items that are attractive to the buyer yet will not cost the supplier much to deliver them.
Remember that Buyers are humans, just like the rest of us. Many are working long hours in difficult environments. They will be multitasking and are probably quite stressed yet they are still trying to do a good job and meet their objectives.
Use this to your advantage by writing a bid or tender submission which makes it easy for them to evaluate. Answer all their points and ensure you have addressed the five areas above. If you do that, you will have given them all that they need to understand and see value in your offering.