A quick note – For my cousins over the water in the US, I do also write bids and proposals. Please get in touch if you’re interested in winning more contracts and growing your business. This page is directed at my fellow countrymen in the UK, so if you’d like to submit more winning tenders please read on!
Writing and submitting tenders is one of the most important aspects of B2B marketing. This is where you win the big contracts – The ones that bring in reliable revenue and allow your business to grow.
So why do so many businesses submit low quality rush jobs that are simply never going to win?
Simple – They don’t know how to write a quality tender response.
An Invitation To Tender (ITT)
Before you write a tender response, you’ll be given an ITT document by your prospect. This contains everything you need to know to win the contract.
In the UK, and indeed everywhere within the EU, every ITT must include:
- Exactly what your prospect wants
- The minimum requirements, as well as any pass/fail criteria
- Evaluation criteria, i.e. how they’ll mark the responses
- Details of how and when you should submit your response
- Formatting requirements and/or templates
If you don’t feel that the ITT document provides enough information for you to produce a quality tender response, you should by all means contact your prospect and request more information. Note that this should never gain you an unfair advantage – additional information provided to one candidate should be provided to all candidates – but is nonetheless worthwhile if it clarifies the needs and wants of the prospect.
Writing & Submitting Tender Responses
So now you have everything you need to submit a winning tender response. You know exactly what your prospect wants, as well as how and when to submit your correctly-formatted response. It goes without saying that you’re the experts in your own product or service.
Here are the basic requirements for any good tender response:
- Answer The Question! (ATQ) – You’d be amazed at how often tender responses focus more on the product being offered than on what the prospect actually wants.
- Meet all of the minimum requirements – This should be a no brainer, but I’ve seen many tender responses that don’t do it. If you’re wondering, they end up in the bin. If your product or service does not meet these criteria then either explain how you will address this shortcoming, or don’t waste your time completing a response.
- Format your response as directed – In theory your prospect can reject any tenders immediately if they are not formatted as directed in the ITT. They probably won’t, but not following instructions will usually result in not winning the contract.
- Stay within word limits – This is related to the last point, but it bears mentioning. If the word limit for a section is 300 words, that is both a limit and a target. You should only fall significantly short of word limits if you’re certain you’ve done everything you can with the words available.
- Don’t be boring – This shouldn’t matter. If your product is the best on offer, you should win the contract. In the real world, however, tender responses are read and marked by humans, and humans don’t like being bored. Make your tender responses stand out and you’ll win a lot more business.
- Provide evidence – This is vital. You can’t just tell your prospect how great you are and expect them to buy it: You need proof. This could be in the form of case studies, testimonials, awards, quotes from clients, etc.
- Proof read your response – Please do this. I’ve seen tender responses that were still covered in red editorial text or contained spelling mistakes. I’ve even seen companies accidentally submit the empty response template instead of the completed version. Needless to say, you won’t win many contracts if you make these basic errors. I provide a professional proof-reading service for tender responses, so if you’re interested in working with me please let me know.
Many ITT documents request proof in the form of case studies, but even if they don’t you’ll probably be allowed to submit some as appendices. If you are, do it. Even if your client has not included this type of evidence within their evaluation criteria, I guarantee that providing proof of your expertise in the form of case studies, testimonials and quotes will significantly improve your chances of winning a contract.
The Importance of Building Relationships
If you come across an ITT that looks perfect for your company, that’s great. Go ahead and submit a response: show the prospect how awesome you are.
But that’s not the best way to grow your business.
It’s like the old Chinese proverb goes:
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Companies don’t just decide what they want and throw together an ITT – They need information first. There’s a whole research phase prior to tendering that often lasts weeks or months… even years in the case of Government contracts.
It’s during this research phase that you want to reach your prospects. To do this, you provide information up front: White papers, case studies, reports, webinars. You attend trade shows to demonstrate your cutting-edge solutions. You show customers that you can solve their problems, even if they didn’t know they had a problem to begin with!
If you get in early and educate your prospect, they’ll use the information you gave them to construct their ITT. You’ll also gain valuable insights into how their business works, and how you can improve your product or service to match their needs. This puts you in a great position to win their contract and build an ongoing relationship with them.
Who knows, that kind of relationship might even warrant a case study of its own further down the line!
Want to Win More Contracts and Grow Your Business?
Then complete the form at the bottom of the page, or get in touch. I’m an experienced writer of tenders, and I’ve worked on both sides of the process many times. I know what your customers want to see in a tender response (even if they don’t yet), and I can win you more contracts.
I also provide a proof-reading service for completed tender responses. I’m an experienced editor of business & technical documentation, and I’ve caught many errors that might otherwise have slipped through. If you’re worried that your tender response might include errors, or that the writing could be tightened up, this is the service for you. Prices start from £80, and include detailed feedback and recommendations.
Whatever your needs, please complete the form below or visit my contact page – I’m always happy to hear from potential clients and I will happily provide quotes for services that are specific to your needs.