How To Win Bids and Tenders

Wondering how to go about winning bids and tenders? Writing first-class bids isn’t an exact science – but at Win That Bid, we’ve got the expertise to help you secure your dream contracts with ease.

Top Ten Tips for Winning Tenders

1.    Be thorough: answer every question in the bid document – missing out a couple of vital questions can lose you the entire bid.

2.    Know your marketplace (competitors & pricing): spend time researching your competitors and understand their pricing prior to the bid writing process.

3.    Appeal to your reader: offer persuasive, benefit-led responses and think about the customer – what’s important to them? What are they looking for in their supplier?  Don’t simply provide a list of features – if you want to win tenders, take your responses one step further and state the benefits.

4.    Have a model: build a library of standard PQQ and tender responses – save documents such as insurance certificates, policies and yearly accounts in one place that is easily accessible by others in the company.

5.    Outdo yourself: don’t leave your tender until the last minute – make sure that you have dedicated ample time and resources to produce the best possible result. If you can’t submit your best effort for this bid, why you are submitting at all?

6.    Be decisive: make a conscious decision to bid – if you are tendering ‘just because’, this is not the recipe for a winning bid.

7.    Discriminate: can you deliver this tender? Do you want to win this bid? If you win, what will happen to your other contracts? Make sure you’re bidding for business you really want.

8.    Understand the bid requirements – and adhere to them.

9.    Know your audience: read the bid evaluation criteria – what’s most important to the customer?

10.  Be proactive: engage with the customer – being invited to bid is a compliment, and likely to put your submission in a stronger position than a cold response.

 

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Finding your voice

Writing a bid means writing dozens of documents for a wide (and sometimes mysterious) audience. That means employing some basic writing techniques to get the best possible impact out of your proposal. There are some basic strategies for clear bid writing:

  • Be direct and concise.
  • Avoid block text. If it becomes unavoidable, break the page up with images, charts and text-box quotes.
  • Avoid using generic boilerplate sales language. We’ll discuss why below.
  • Words like would, could, might and may reduce the sense of quiet assured confidence in your bid, creating doubt in the mind of the reader.
  • One idea per sentence. What you really should avoid when bid writing is giant run-on sentences full of commas and different notions, that confuse the reader and reduce the flow of the document to a thick viscous sludge that causes the client to struggle for breath like a beached whale, as demonstrated by this sentence. Aren’t you glad that’s over?

Research the client

When writing a bid be client focused and personalised. One company’s non-specific generic boilerplate reads much the same as another’s, and will likely bore the reader. More to the point, a cut and paste job will fail in one of the basic goals of the bid – to demonstrate that the bid writer has a clear understanding of the goals, issues and problems faced by the client.

Determine who the reader of the bid (and its separate sections) will be. Are they informed enough to understand the specifics of your solution or are they seeking to employ you to provide a service with which they are technically unfamiliar? You should also write with personality in mind, even if you know yourself to be writing a bid for a team to read. Pragmatic thinkers will be interested in results, and look for direct language, brevity and the strong use of graphics to quickly illustrate a point. Analytical thinkers will prefer a focus on detail and accurate facts, with charts and graphs.

In general, it is best to avoid lots of Technical Jargon in an Acronym Soup (TJAS), even if you are expecting an informed audience. Anything that slows down reader comprehension will hurt the bid. If the client is using different terminology to that commonly used in your organisation or even your industry, it will normally be best to use their wording.

Given the sheer scale of many bids, applying these ideas can seem like a frightening prospect. Win that Bid can pass the lessons learned over many successful bids to your bid team.

Get Tender Ready with The TROC button today

What Does It Mean?

Get Tender Ready with the TROC todayCompanies that have passed the TROC (Tender Readiness Online Check) or otherwise prequalified to respond to large private or public sector invitations to tender may display this symbol.

What Does It Mean For Tendering Authorities And Procurement Officers?

Public Sector organisations should look for this symbol on SME company websites, because:
  • An SME company displaying THE TROC TENDER READY symbol is indicating that it has met the minimum criteria qualifying it to respond to a Public Sector tender
  • This means that the tendering body can confidently approach the company and invite them to participate in a procurement exercise.
  • Looking for the TROC TENDER READY button will help tendering authorities to meet the Government’s aspiration that ‘25% of public sector contracts should be awarded to SMEs’.

The TROC Tender Ready symbol is a private sector initiative, with no government funding or taxpayers’ money involved.

Companies who have successfully completed and passed a Public Sector PQQ or won a contract within the last TWELVE months should contact info@procurementconnection.org.uk to get their badge and press pack.

It’s up to the both the Private and Public Sectors, as well as the press and other media organisations, to raise awareness of the TROC Tender Ready symbol: it will help procurement officers to identify ‘Tender Ready’ busineeses and therefore help more SMEs to win Public Sector contracts.

Are you ready for the Bribery Act?

The Bribery Act 2010 is due to come into effect very soon but are you prepared for the change it will bring?

Increasingly, public sector tenders require the supplier to explain their anti-bribery and anti-corruption processes and procedures. Despite a number of delays The Bribery Act is now due to come into force on 1st July 2011. The purpose of the Act amongst other things will be to:

  • provide a more effective legal framework to combat bribery in the public or private sectors
  • create two general offences covering the offering, promising or giving of an advantage, and requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting of an advantage
  • create a discrete offence of bribery of a foreign public official
  • create a new offence of failure by a commercial organisation to prevent a bribe being paid for or on its behalf (it will be a defence if the organisation has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery
  • replace the fragmented and complex offences at common law and in the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-1916
  • require the Secretary of State to publish guidance about procedures that relevant commercial organisations can put in place to prevent bribery on their behalf
  • help tackle the threat that bribery poses to economic progress and development around the world.

The Ministry of Justice published updated procedure guidance on 30th March 2011 that can be put into place by commercial organisations. The report advises that an organisation can form a case against the offence of failing to prevent bribery providing that they can prove adequate procedures are in place in the organisation. This is under section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010.

The guidance sets out six principles that will assist commercial organisations with planning, implementing, monitoring and reviewing their business to ensure it is bribery free.

The principles are:

  1. Proportionate procedures
  2. Top level commitment
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Due diligence
  5. Communication
  6. Monitoring and Review

After each principle there are suggested practical guidelines to help your organisation address them. This designates control to the organisations to review their business and undertake the relevant risk assessments to determine whether or not their procedures are sufficiently robust. If your organisation does not meet the required standard, you are advised to implement anti-bribery procedures as soon as possible.

The guidance presents a risk based approach to adopting the sufficient procedures and acknowledges that different procedures will suit different organisations depending on

  • size of the company
  • markets in which the business operates in
  • the nature of the company’s business partners and transactions.

If you are flummoxed with your obligations under this new act or are having difficulties with any aspect of your bids and tenders, Win That Bid is simply a phone call away.

Tender checklist – Reviewing you tender

Once you have written your tender the importance of reviewing it cannot be overstated.  Although you may feel sure that you have met all specifications these mistakes are among the most common reasons for bids being rejected.  Here is a checklist to help.

  • Be critical of what you have written, there is always room for improvement.
  • Make sure everything included is consistent.  When cutting and pasting text have any formatting changes arisen?
  • Have you used uniform and correct font, size and formatting throughout?  Does the style and order of your document meet with the requirements?
  • Seek written permission if you want to include any additional information about your company which is relevant and may help your bid.  Add these as appendices.
  • Number your paragraphs and ensure the accuracy of your contents page so everything can be easily located.
  • Create a front cover with the project title, date, name of organisation requesting the tender and the name of your own organisation.
  • Confirm that there are signatures wherever required, by the correct member of your company.
  • Once you feel sure that you have completed the document hand it to a colleague to check for spelling, punctuation, grammar and meaning
  • Consider getting the document professionally printed and bound if the client has requested it in hard copy.

Tender checklist – Submission

Having reviewed your document here are some things to check before submitting it.

  • You may want to deliver the tender document in person to ensure it arrives on time and in best condition.  If so, remember to take a timed and signed receipt.
  • If you use a courier make sure they are a firm you trust and that they do not attach the name of any company to your package.
  • If sending by post, check whether or not your franking machine contains your company  name.  This must not appear anywhere on your document.
  • Send two copies of the document to your client along with an SAE (self addressed envelope).  If you do get the job, have the client sign one and return it to you.
  • If submitting it electronically, ensure you can get a record of its dispatch and receipt.
  • Monitor the issuing authority until the closing date of the award, and contact someone if you do not hear anything by that time.

Tender Writing: Your proposal checklist

Proposal Checklist – Preparing to write your proposal submission

Now that you have thought about how your company will handle the tendering process, it is time to think about writing the tender itself.  There are things you should consider, and information you should gather, before beginning to write so you create the best document you are capable of.

  • What do you know about your client?  This information can be extremely useful in knowing how to pitch your document.  Perhaps the client is looking for particular benefits, for example price or level of service.
  • Make sure you are not just there to test the market or to make up numbers.  You may even want to think about requesting your customers sign a non-disclosure agreement before presenting.  This will help to ensure any ideas or information you wish to protect remains yours.
  • If you are bidding for something the customer has previously received from someone else, what can you learn from the service provided by the current or previous supplier?  You are allowed to ask the customer about this and it may help lend more insight into how to fit your bid to their needs.
  • Make sure you have all the latest information from your team, are you up to date with all the work your they have been doing on the bid?
  • Have you collected all of the relevant documents and information you will need when writing your bid, in particular, your quotation?
  • Read all the requirements and follow the instructions to the letter.  It may surprise you to learn that lots of bids are rejected simply for not complying with the instructions.  (Or it may not surprise you at all, if yours has been one of them!)
  • Remember you’re in competition.  It may help to think about what you would consider if a company was bidding to you.

latest LOCOG Procurement schedule

Latest LOCOG Procurement Timetable

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.   Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice on tendering for the London games we’re always ready to help.

There are still tons of Olympic opportunities up for grabs.  Have a look at LOCOG’s latest procurement schedule to find out when it’s your turn to bid.  If you need any advice we’re always ready to help.

Category Date Opportunity
Artists, Performance & Events Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

?     Sport production services

?     Sport creative design

?     Sport production (workforce)

?     Torch relay – staging

?     Retail – shopping bags

?     Orchestras

?     Gifts and promotional merchandise

?     Collectibles and awards

?     Professional artists and performers

?     Costumes and props

Facilities Management & Catering Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Catering equipment
Security Jan – Mar 2011 ?     Security contracts audit
Services Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Accessible formats – BSL, Easy Read, Audio description

?     Broadcast monitoring

?     Artwork production for advertising

?     Website moderation

?     Workforce training venue (large)

?     Training delivery & materials

Sports Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

Apr – June 2011

Modern Pentathlon, Horses, Fencing Equipment, Athlete Boats, Numbers-Bibs-Stickers, Buoys, Anemometers, Equestrian Show jumps, On Water Safety, GPS, Rowing Equipment, Equestrian Equipment.

Sailing Equipment, Boccia Equipment, Canoe Equipment, Beach Volleyball, Swimming Pool Equipment, Alcohol Test Units, Hockey Equipment, Athletics Equipment, Goal Ball, Handball Equipment, Scoreboards / Charts, Cycling Equipment.

Swim / Triathlon Boats, Whistles, Cones, Heat/Light Monitors, Tools/Repair Material, Ropes/Belts, Sports Specific Flags, Goal ball Equipment, Stationary, Consumables, Sewing Services, Coolers/Refrigerators, Triathlon Equipment.

Sports Medical Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Dental Equipment and consumables

?     Optometry

?     Weymouth and football venues services.

Technology Oct – Dec 2010 ?     IT reseller agreement.
Transport & Logistics Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Mobility vehicles

?     Village blinds and curtains

?     General tools and outdoor furniture

?     Fire equipment

?     Office furniture and safes

?     Sat Nav and tracking units

?     Press centre furniture

?     Driver scheduling and rostering

?     Traffic management consultancy

?     Driving license checks

?     Vehicle livery and graphics

?     Plant and machinery

Venues & Infrastructure Oct – Dec 2010

Jan – Mar 2011

?     Technology support structures

?     Portable water and waste

?     Alterations to existing buildings and CAT B fit out

?     Scaffold and superstructure systems

?     Site works and infrastructure

?     Temporary event fit out

Do I need a Health and Safety policy?

Though required by law if you employ more than 5 people, a written health and safety policy can sometimes seem like an unnecessary hassle for a small business.  Surely you can trust your colleagues to behave safely at work?  But taking the time to create a well thought out document isn’t just important to avoid breaking the law;  It shows a real commitment to your employees and responsibilities.

A health and safety policy is a record of how you plan to deal with any health and safety issues.  If you employ more than five people it will need to be written down.  This is so all of your staff know what you’re doing for them and what they must do as employees to keep the workplace safe.  While they are working for you, you have a legal responsibility to maintain their safety.  Officially you must ensure that safe systems of work are set and followed, risks to health are eliminated or controlled and that your workers have the information, instruction, training and supervision necessary for their health and safety.

Health and safety policies are usually made up of three sections.

1. The first section should include your targets.  A list of issues you are going to tackle.
2. Secondly, you outline whose responsibility these targets are.
3. Thirdly, the action or arrangements section should demonstrate how you can accomplish them.

You should also include the locations of your health and safety poster and any first aid equipment.  Lastly, make sure you’ve signed and dated the policy and set a date for review.

Obviously safe practice will mean different things in different workplaces, so your policy will be unique to your company.  Most new businesses no longer need to register with the Health and Safety Executive or local authority.  Those that may need to register are those dealing with hazardous substances, like asbestos, or in hazardous industries, like construction.  A great resource offering advice, templates and guides is the HSE’s official site  http://www.hse.gov.uk/index.htm  Alternatively, our compliance team can assist you with any matters of health and safety from policy writing to conducting your audits. Just call on 0203 405 1850 or email hello@winthatbid.com

Choosing the right opportunities for your business

Part of the art of tendering is choosing the right opportunities for your company.  The tendering process is used with the buyer in mind and not the supplier.  You need to make sure that you have the following in place and you also need to be confident that you can win the tender.  Your confidence needs to be based on reality which is backed up by your documentation and writing a compeling case with the buyer in mind.

Is my company big enough?

  • Buyers will be checking that the tender contract value does not exceed 20-30% of the tendering company’s turnover (NB this is a guide, not a rule)
  • This is because the buyer wants to be sure the contract value will not be too much for the company to handle
  • The size of your company dictates the maximum size of contract it is likely to win

Can my company meet the buyer’s needs?

  • You may look at a contract and think that your company can do most of the work but if there are areas that it cannot manage, your chances of qualifying or winning can be seriously reduced
  • This may be in terms of specification, geographical location/coverage, mandatory accreditations etc

Can I show relevant experience?

  • Buyers like to see that suppliers can prove they can do the job, therefore references from similar organisations for similar work are ideal
  • If you haven’t got these, you will need to show you have ‘transferable skills’ from customers with similar needs
  • If the work you are bidding for is not a ‘core competence’ (ie it represents only a small element of your company’s overall turnover) it can reduce your chances of success

Has my company got sufficient trading history?

  • As shown in the above Tender Documents Checklist, public sector buyers generally ask for audited accounts for the last 3 years (sometimes 2 years is enough)
  • This means that Start-Ups are not always in the best position to win bids

Has my company got sufficient resources, time & tendering expertise?

  • Tendering is time consuming – you will need to invest a lot of your time and resources to create a winning bid
  • Tendering can also be a daunting task – especially if you do not have the right skills or expertise.

What can I do?

  • Wait for the tender opportunity that is right for your company – it is a waste of time tendering for contracts that you are not going to win!
  • Continue to grow your company until it is better positioned to tender
  • Collaborate with another business that can complement your company and help minimise any of the ‘gaps’ mentioned above
  • Use consultants or other resources to help you through the tendering process