Some tender formats can be very prescriptive as they dictate the space, font size and typeface that can be used.
To avoid your answer becoming a ‘wall of words’, try to be creative with the inclusion of tables, jpeg images and bullet points.
If the formatting prevents the use of these graphics, you can still make good use of spaces and headings to create natural breaks in the text.
We all know that long-winded and rambling responses are not going to score well.
Evaluators like succinct, well-structured answers that describe the service or process and the benefit it will deliver along with addressing any possible concerns they may have.
To do this you must provide adequate detail and not over-condense a response so that it just becomes a curt, factual summary.
I am sure many of you have decided that ‘things will be different’ for the next tender.
It is common to resolve to be more efficient, learn from feedback, write more concisely and/or plan more effectively.
January is a good time to put new processes in place so think about where you can improve and make the necessary changes before the next tender comes along.
A good bid library contains multiple well-referenced documents including stock answers, CVs and policy documents.
The generic material must be topped and tailed to make it specific to the opportunity, however having captured the core material ahead of time, this task becomes relatively straightforward.
Why not take a day in early January to review your library?
Successful companies know how long it takes to prepare, write and review a typical tender section or answer.
This allows them to estimate the inputs required when a new opportunity arrives and to resource the tasks appropriately.
It enables informed decisions to be taken about the availability of staff and to avoid last-minute panics.
If you lose a bid the feedback you get may be very limited, particularly when dealing with the private sector.
You will probably be told you lost “on price” as this is the easiest way for the client to avoid any further discussion.
When you follow-up you should ask about specific sections so you are more likely to get meaningful feedback.
Where a question asks you to describe a process, it is not enough just to give a generic list of steps.
As with all responses, you should make the description specific to the client or contract so they can easily see how it will work for them.
One way to do this is to write a brief paragraph explaining the benefits that your generic process will deliver.
Community benefits are best described in terms of employment, training, supply chain and community engagement.
Wherever possible, make the activities quantifiable and describe how they will be measured and/or reported.
It is particularly effective to include evidence of community benefits delivered on previous similar projects.
It is important that you convey a positive tone in your bids and tenders.
As an example, instead of simply highlighting everything that is NOT included in your offer, try to find a way of being less negative.
You could insert a table of responsibilities showing the separate client and supplier activities.
The words you use when writing a bid will result in a certain impression being created when it is read.
Factually identical statements can be expressed in different ways so select the one which meets your objective.
For example, will your telephone helpline “remain open until 8pm every night” or will it “close at 8pm every night”?
Providing a generic response to a tender question is quick and easy to produce however it will not score highly.
Customers want assurances that what you ‘normally’ provide will be appropriate for them.
Even though you may be using library material, it must be tailored to show you have considered the client and the project.
When you are bidding against a company which currently holds a contract, it is easy to get disheartened as you think they have an advantage.
Remember that the incumbent’s weaknesses and pricing strategy are known by the client whereas yours are not.
Use this information to your advantage by showcasing areas which will be attractive to the client