In the competitive marketplace, your tender response must not only satisfy all the mandatory requirements but it must also stand out against the other bidders.
Private companies and government organisations call for tenders because they want to choose from a range of options. If you’re lucky you will only be up against a handful of competitors – but there may be many more.
The evaluation process
The people on the evaluation panel will give your proposal a score based on the selection criteria. Evaluation criteria will be different for every bid, depending on the nature of the project to be delivered, who the client is and what their priorities are. Each criterion is also given a weighting based on how important that consideration is to the client.
Each panel member may evaluate the response document as a whole; alternatively, they may be tasked with scoring just one criterion for each response submitted.
What’s important is making your submission stand out from the pack — in ways that your competitors can’t equal.
Here are five ways to give your proposal a boost that will help you win the contract.
- Understand the client’s requirements
- Align your skills and experience to the client’s values and objectives
- Answer the question – THEN give them a little more
- Demonstrate your ability by providing supporting evidence
- Add value and benefit.
1. Show how well you understand your client’s priorities
A tender is a customer-focused marketing document, and your goal is to impress upon your potential client that you understand their key concerns better than anyone else.
This means shifting your thinking to looking at opportunities from the client’s perspective and giving your best focus to the outcomes that the work will achieve.
Start by analysing the big picture of what the client is trying to achieve through the tender and its supporting specifications. For example, the contract may be asking for a supplier to landscape a park. From the criteria, you can also ascertain that your client needs to get more people to use the park and to provide an environmentally friendly space that welcomes people.
If you’re able to get your client to see that you are on board and have an understanding of the wider-reaching aims of the tender, then you can set the scene for what it will take to deliver the work (in a way that only your company can achieve).
2. Showcase your alignment with their values and objectives
From the client’s perspective, think about…
- What do they value most from a supplier of your type?
- What are they prepared to spend money on?
- How would they want you to work with them to deliver the most efficient outcome?
The answers could be tangible or intangible and your response needs to appeal to their known goals or issues.
Demonstrating to the client that you are aligned to their business and values provides the foundation for a partnership. Using your client’s keywords fosters familiarity and a level of comfort in your submission.
When responding to the tender, you are sending the client a message that you are a long term partner who will work cooperatively and do whatever it takes to get the job done — on-time and on-budget.
3. With each response, don’t just answer the question
Of course, you need to answer the question, but so will all your competitors… so what am I saying here?
You should include additional information that provides further value to the client.
Before you start answering the question, make sure you understand what the client is asking, then you can respond accordingly.
What are your strongest and best credentials?
How does your methodology, approach or experience lower risk or deliver certainty?
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to serve them with the biggest bang for their buck; the thing they can’t get anywhere else apart than from you. Describe the breakthrough product, service, or insight that will change the boundaries of what they’ll buy so that you come out as the only winner.
4. Show them the evidence
According to tender evaluators, there are three types of responses:
- Most tender responses will just answer the questions with what they are going to do.
- Some responses (and only a few) will expand on how they are going to do it, and include additional information on their methodology.
- The outstanding responses (which are very few) will explain not only how they are going to deliver, but will also evidence why their solution is the best one, and how it meets the client’s requirements.
Evidence builds the trust that is essential to any buying decision.
So, these standout responses will also include the value and outcomes that will be delivered, using performance statistics and data on cost savings and productivity gains from previous or similar contracts (quantitative evidence).
These responses will provide proof of their methodology as well as client testimonials or other accreditation or endorsement (qualitative evidence).
Simply put, your claims are the main points in your proposal, and evidence is the information that proves your claims are true. Tender submissions often make claims without the authors realising, due to word limits and several iterations of the original text.
Unsubstantiated claims will ensure your response gets tossed in the reject pile, so watch out for phrases in your summaries such as:
- Leading provider
- Results-driven team
- Highly experienced team / vast wealth of experience
- Most reliable on the market
5. Look for, then demonstrate added value that delivers benefit to the client
To make your tender submission stand out from your competitors, you’ll need to offer something extra that delivers ongoing value or benefit.
What is most valuable about your offer, compared to what the client is looking for? Where can you offer value that others can’t? Understand that buyers always want a bit more. Sometimes it helps to get an independent view to identify what makes your offer unique.
Whatever added value you offer, it is essential that you explain the benefits, including any tangible savings and outcomes.
Instead of just discussing your expertise, show how your capability helps you to get things done more efficiently than your competitors (or by the client doing it themselves).
For example, you can deliver the project within a shorter timeframe, then that will provide additional value such as cost savings and early implementation.
Other examples include using sustainable materials which have a long-term benefit, not only to the client but to the environment. Or perhaps you can provide a solution which enables increased automation, which in turn reduces customer complaints and increases efficiency.
Whatever you offer, it provides more credibility if you can demonstrate the success of this in a previous project.
Finally, set the tone…
Once you think you’ve finished (phew!), re-read your proposal from the client’s perspective. Your tone should be assured, yet not bragging. More like a conversation and less like a presentation.
Does your submission inspire confidence in your company? Does it answer questions, or create them? Replace subservient language like “should” and “would” with the confident language of “can” and “will”.
Bombarding the reader with details of every project you’ve ever done is unnecessary as well as patronising. You’ve already got their attention. Use it to engage them in their favourite topic – themselves. Don’t use “We” at the start of every sentence.
Shift the emphasis from you to your next client.
Or download my free Tender Cheat Sheet to get you started.
And don’t forget about our closed Facebook group The Tender Hub – learn more.
Kristine Daw is the Managing Director of Dawtek, a Melbourne-based company specialising in tenders and proposals, tender training, copywriting, editing and creating business templates. Kristine and her small team have a range of clients including small businesses, multi-national corporations, all levels of government and not-for-profits.
1300 DAWTEK or dawtek.com.au