How to win a tender contract
As a startup, you will want to win every business opportunity that comes your way.
Some prospective customers will be easy to convert, whilst others will make you jump through hoops before even considering you as a potential business partner.
Organisations need an effective way of evaluating the businesses they work with. This is where the tendering process comes in. Tendering can be applied to many walks of business, everything from small-scale freelance work to major government contracts.
Rather than spending the time researching all the options out there, many businesses send out an invitation to tender. This is the first step in competitive tendering, where an organisation invites suppliers to bid for the opportunity to supply of goods to that business.
For startups, bidding for tenders can be time-consuming, a drain on resources, and can get pretty disheartening if you fail to be awarded the contract.
So, if you are in the business of bidding for projects, it’s worth following our top tips to give you every chance of success.
Pitch for the win
It’s in our nature to bet on the outsider. I’ve done it before, and will no doubt do it again. It’s all part of the thrill. But this tactic rarely works for startups in the tendering game.
Pitch for the win, not the outside chance. Tendering is time-consuming, and often you’ll spend significantly more time trying to win the business than you first intended. Aim for invitations that you know you can win, as this confidence will truly reflect in your proposal.
Read the requirements
Seems obvious right?
Well, businesses spend a lot of time thinking about what needs to go in to their invitation. After all, the better the invitation, the better the proposals they will receive in response.
That’s why invitations tend to be pretty prescriptive about what information they expect in a proposal. Anything missed can either land you at the bottom of the list, or out the running completely.
The requirements are there for a reason. Read them, understand them, and follow them. Everything down to the small print in the T&Cs. This really is the first step if you want to stand a chance of winning a tender contract.
Focus on the business
When completing a tender bid, the temptation is to focus on the specifics of the project. The important thing to remember is many contracts can lead onto future business opportunities, or at least the opportunity to tender for future projects.
So when preparing your tender, focus just as much on their business as the project itself. Demonstrate your understanding of the business as a whole, their aims and objectives, and their plans for the future. This doesn’t have to be long, and can be addressed discreetly throughout your proposal.
Price-up with precision
Businesses always want to know how much they will be paying, and what they will receive in return. When responding to a tender, you need to be crystal clear with your bid and pricing.
Cost is rarely the definitive factor of a successful bid. It’s the overall value you can provide on the project. Don’t go in low-balling in the hope of out-pricing the competition. After all, there’s not much point of winning the contract if you just end up losing money on it.
Consider all the costs involved, the time it will take, the resources you will need, the expenses you will incur, and include these in your proposal.
The clearer you are, the greater the chance of success.
Before you submit your bid, make sure you’ve addressed all the queries and there are no errors in your proposal. One of the quickest ways of losing out on a project is by leaving in glaring mistakes. It displays a lack of attention to detail, and a rushed effort to try and meet a deadline.
Again, it’s all about pitching for the win. If you don’t put in the effort to create the best possible proposal, you're unlikely to be awarded the contract. That’s the sort of time you can’t afford to waste as a startup business.
However comprehensive your proposal, the tenderer will inevitably raise questions about some of your responses. A good proposal may also elicit issues which were not considered when the invitation was first created.
This is your next opportunity to prove your value. Provide a dedicated point of contact and be available to answer such questions. Prepare clear and succinct answers, and respond promptly to show you are able to help the organisation progress the project when they are ready to do so.
Well that's it really... and good luck on your next tender opportunity!
Have you been presented a business opportunity too good to pass up? Need help in preparing your proposal or completing the work?
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