How to Win Tenders – Our 7 Key Factors

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The UK government has made a pledge that a third of all public sector contracts should go to the country’s SMEs by 2022. Couple this with the vast amount of private sector opportunities in industries as varied as construction and design and there is a large amount of potential money on the table for UK business. How can you ensure that you maximise your revenues by winning tenders?

1. Be Realistic

Most businesses want to work with large, lucrative companies who are local or national names, providing great testimonials and boosting their reputation. Remember that you have a standardised profile that probably fits around 70% of your customer base. Be careful when bidding for contracts as it may be difficult for you to demonstrate success with companies that do not match with this profile.

As the tender process can incredibly costly diverting both time and resources away from production and operational functions it is incredibly important that the business only submit bids for contracts that it is capable of servicing and therefore, winning.

2. Utilise Efficient Quality Checking Systems

Quality of service is usually of paramount importance when it comes to winning a tender. Throughout the application form, there will often be whole sections appertaining to your suitability as a supplier and proof of your success on similar sized projects. It’s important to remember how you’re presenting your company’s information is being judged.

For this reason, we would always suggest that you employ a third party proof-reader or bid writing specialist to review your bid before completing the application process. Checking your own work is extremely difficult and even professional journalists use a sub-editor to ensure the quality of their work is consistent.

3. Continually Improve

There’s a famous saying – you never lose when you learn. Usually, only 1 in 3 bids will be accepted which means that your company will fail more frequently than succeed, but why should all the effort and time invested in the project be written off?

Conducting post bid reviews and management meetings can help your company understand both the frailties and strengths of the bidding process. Were all the facts present? Did management offer support in a timely fashion? Use this feedback to streamline the process and strengthen delivery rather than proportioning blame.

4. Be Concise

When you are bidding, the key focus should be on the services you can provide for the customer. Explain your unique benefits in a simple and precise style focusing on the outcomes that you could potentially create for the organisation running the tender. Consider how they operate and what attributes they require in a supplier rather than simply copy and pasting marketing statements that describe your company.

You should attempt to provide clear reasons appertaining to the suitability of your company as a supplier alongside well-defined business benefits that arise from your unique proposition and selling points. If the potential customer can quickly and readily understand the difference you present, they are more likely to engage favourably with your application.

5. Use Proven Connections

It may be the case that your company can only meet around 80-90% of the project requirements. In such instances, it’s possible to turn to proven business partners to help you fulfil the needs of the contract. Often similar services are constantly used in conjunction, such as architectural design and structural engineering or copywriting and web design.

Over the lifespan of your business, you will undoubtedly partner with many organisations that can offer complimentary services to your own. When it comes to winning bids, these connections can prove invaluable in ensuring you can deliver the comprehensive service that your potential customer requires. However, it’s vital that you are 100% confident of your partner company as it will be your reputation that is damaged if they fail to deliver on the contract.

6. Sell Yourself and Your Company

One of the oldest adages in business is that people buy from people. Getting in front of your potential customer during the bid process can dramatically increase your chances of winning the business. Key decision makers can evaluate you personally and will give you the opportunity to ask fact-finding questions that can shape the direction of the information you put forward in your bid.

Remember that most organisations want to know their suppliers and talking directly to them will give you a much more involved and in-depth awareness of the most important constraints of the tender.

7. Consider ISO Certification

It is now becoming incredibly common for organisations to require contractors to demonstrate proficiency in key disciplines. The ISO certification system is now so universally known it will allow you to skip entire sections in a large percentage of pre qualification questionnaires.

ISO 9001 is perhaps the most important of these standards proving that your company has the management systems in place to produce a consistently high quality of service.

However, if you are considering ISO certification it is vital that you choose an UKAS accredited certification company. Many organisations, especially those in the public sector will only recognise certificates that have been issued through an UKAS accredited company.

And Finally

Winning bids can be great publicity for your company, good opportunities and partnerships are chances to express your success on the public stage. There is nothing more attractive than demonstrations of competence and achievement when it comes to winning new business.

Talk about contracts when you have signed them up and again when you have produced fantastic results. Ideally, this could put you in a position where you are choosing the business that’s right for your organisation.


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Written by Mark Nutburn

CTO - technology professional with over 20 years of IT experience building bespoke CRM systems and designing customised software solutions. A key part of the management team at The British Assessment Bureau for many years and a part of AMTIVO’s management team.