By Kerri Eckart, CEO

There are several elements required to create a winning bid. Possibly the most important is getting your ducks in a row. By that I mean ensuring you have robust processes in place to increase your chances of success. A system that ensures you are meeting all of the requirements.

In my 20 plus years working and advising on tenders, I have seen it all. From badly written submissions to great submissions that fall over because a vital piece of information wasn’t included.

Here are the three biggest mistakes people make when tendering and tips on how to avoid them:

  1. Generic responses and not providing enough detail

Time and time again I’ve seen content that was not tailored to the client or the bid itself. The information provided in the submission is just too generic or worst still, the focus of the content is all about you rather than the company whose business you are trying to win. Examples include:

  • Focusing on the features of your product/service rather than the benefits
  • Not referencing the client’s name until well into the document
  • Including a generic capability document that is not tailored to the bid
  • Writing ‘not applicable’ but not stating why the question is not applicable
  • Not tailoring answers to the client from the very beginning of your tender response

When you make the above mistakes, you are basically saying to the client, “I couldn’t really be bothered.”

Your submission not only needs to be compliant, it also needs to present the information in the right format. Think about the process of your submission when it is being assessed. The client needs to compare apples with apples. If you submit any old fruit they can’t score you!

  1. The bid is not the right fit for your business 

Bids are incredibly time consuming and time equals money. You need to be selective about which bids you pursue. Having an assessment system in place takes the emotion out of the process and allows you to deal with the facts alone. Facts that determine if you should be bidding including:

  • Do you know the client?
  • Did you know the tender was being released or is this the first you have heard about it?
  • Do you have real experience in this area?
  • Do you know who the incumbent is or who their preferred suppliers are?

These basis questions may signal that you don’t know enough to pursue the bid. Alternatively you might decide to submit an amazing tender that will at the very least get the client’s attention, allowing you to build a relationship moving forward. Either way, companies with no process in place end up with a low success rate due to their scatter gun approach.

  1. Leaving it too late

Starting a submission three days before it’s due is a guaranteed way to fail. By this point it is too late. Instead you need some simple and strong bid management tools in place to ensure a winning tender each and every time.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to review the tender document – I suggest reading it at least 3 times to truly get a feel for what the client is after. You then need to determine who will be responsible for responding to each section. Assembling your team takes time. It’s important to get your team together and run a kick-off meeting to agree as a group what the strategy is to win the tender, including the technical minds whose input will be crucial. Key questions to cover off in this meeting include:

  • Why has the submission been released?
  • What do we know? What’s missing?
  • Which CVs and case studies will be included in the submission?
  • Is it a printed submission or electronic? Printed requires more production time.
  • Who will review the draft and signoff the final document and how much time do they require?

Avoiding these three common mistakes will significantly increase your chances of bid/tender success.