The purpose of a great tender cover letter is simple: an effective cover letter will give you the edge over your competition. A poor one… well, it’s likely going to contribute to your submission being overlooked and winding up on a huge pile of other sad looking documents. We all know how tough it is these days competition-wise and you can expect to be up against possibly hundreds of other companies in any standard tender process.
In my view, I believe that tender cover letters are important tools that although not always required, are under utilised. Depending on your personality, your approach when writing a cover letter may see you quickly whipping something up (not advised) or writing and re-writing multiple drafts (which can be incredibly frustrating).
Before we delve into the ins and outs, let’s backtrack and reflect on some key points: a good cover letter will highlight succinctly, why your company should be awarded the tender. It does so by providing information about your company’s recent wins that are relevant and drawing on evidence to demonstrate that you’re the ideal fit for the project.
So what might a great tender look like? First-up, don’t forget to include the standard items – I’m talking about the date, your name and title, your business’ name, its address and a signature block.
In my experience, the most effective cover letters will also include:
- A concise and snappy introduction that includes one or two paragraphs that summarise your company’s qualifications and its ability to meet and exceed the client’s requirements. Try to be persuasive with your language and offer a unique reason as to why your company should be trusted with the project. It’s important that you personalise every cover letter – sure, use a general template but all of your messaging needs to be tailored for the project in question. Nothing will put a selection panel off your application faster than if they believe you’re using a template to apply for multiple tenders.
- State very clearly that you are submitting a conforming tender.
- Outline the benefits of your unique offer to the client. While you want to keep this simple (don’t get carried away with sophisticated language or jargon that means nothing to your target audience), be sure to include any outstanding value-added services, superior aspects of customer service or competitive pricing elements.
- Be clear that you’re open to a partnership approach.
- End with your organisation’s value and key benefit.
As you can see from the above outline, your cover letter should be no more than one or two pages long. So many of my clients who I’ve trained through the tender process often find that writing the cover letter (together with the Executive Summary), is the most challenging part of a tender submission. It’s very difficult to be concise while also delivering what is expected in terms of information and strategic messaging in one or two pages.
Regardless of how experienced you are in terms of tenders, I always advise people to get someone who has no involvement in the process to read through your cover letter. If that person is asking questions or if the cover letter doesn’t make much sense to them, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Remember, the panel involved in selecting the winning applicant, are unlikely to be familiar with your business. So everything you’re submitting needs to make sense to someone who has no prior knowledge of your business and its expertise.
And one final tip that may sound silly but you’d be surprised at how many people make this mistake: don’t forget to sign your cover letter before submitting it.
Before you go, if you want to respond to a tender but don’t know where to start, download my free tender template to boost your chances of winning your next tender.
If you’re after one-on-one help with your cover letter or something else tender related, reach out and let’s chat.