New to the tendering process?
Tender writing can make or break your chances of being successful in the public sector marketplace.
If you have found a great opportunity for your business, but do not know where to begin when it comes to tender writing, this blog is for you!
Tender writing for beginners
The fact is you must write a tender response before you win a contract.
As part of the tendering process, the bidder must put together a tender proposal. If you are new to procurement, this can be tricky as there is no tried and tested template to follow each time you bid for a contract.
That said, every tender is different, which means your response should be unique and tailored to the individual buyer’s requirements every time you bid for work with a public sector organisation.
What does a tender writer do?
A lot of work goes in to winning tenders.
Some SMEs have a tender writer or a bid writing team, that is focused on writing winning tenders. Realistically, however, many SMEs do not have the resources to have a dedicated team.
If your business does not have a bid writing team, it is important that your employees work together to submit a quality-controlled document that displays all the great things your business can offer the public sector and that answers all the questions asked by the buyer in any SQ or tender document.
A bid writer will not only write the bid but should carry out research on the client to understand their requirements.
In some cases, to gain a clearer understanding of a potential client’s requirements, a bid writer will arrange a meeting or have a telephone conversation with the buying authority before they begin work on the tender response.
Asking questions is an important part of the tender writing process. When bidding for tenders, you have every right to formally contact the buyer to fully understand the contract. You can ask:
- The scope of the contract
- How the tender will be scored
- Confirm the tender procedure
- What the value of the contract is over the full contract lifecycle
A bid writer should never be afraid to reach out to a contracting authority. Buyers want the best possible outcome for their procurements, so it is in their own interests to help every supplier submit the most accurate and well-informed bid.
How do you draft a tender?
Although there no one-size-fits-all template for tender writing, there are ways you can make sure that your tender response shows off what you can do and makes the buying authority really take notice.
Here are our tips for drafting tenders.
Start from scratch
Copy and paste may seem tempting but try to avoid using stock answers when applying for tenders, as an experienced buyer will be able to spot them from a mile away.
Tailoring your response will only benefit you. If you do not take time to read the questions and give a specific answer to them, then you have failed before you have started. Make sure that your responses answer the questions that the buyer is is asking, not the ones you wish they were asking, and that key information in each response is easily found and understood.
When drafting a tender response, it is important that you give detail and confirm clearly how much the goods or services you are offering cost, the time scales involved, and how long the project will take.
This is where the research you did earlier comes in to play as you can talk about the benefit you can offer, focusing specifically on that client as you will understand what matters to them. Zone in on their needs and how the services or products your business can offer can solve their problems.
Stand out from the crowd
Rhyming off the benefits of working with your business is a good place to start but have a think about what differentiates your business from your competitors and what your solution can offer beyond the scope of the contract.
It is important that you always specify the add-ons which are included in your price, as the buyer may not have worked with your business before. Little things can add up: the small things could be a deciding factor in a buyer’s decision, so give them the full details of what your business can offer as part of your package.
“Added value” is an incredibly important part of the selection questionnaire but suppliers often ask, “what does that mean?”.
This section is the part where you can promote what your business does. For example, if your business supplies equipment, mention in the Added Value section if your business will fit it for free or offer a maintenance package.
What does the public sector look for?
If you want to win tenders, you must offer price and quality.
Public sector organisations want to achieve efficiency savings and invest in sustainable solutions that will offer real value to their organisation. That said, the The cheapest bid does not always win. Many organisations are moving towards which takes consideration of issues, other than just price.
The UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015 state that when buyers are scoring a tender, the focus is not just to be placed on price, but on the best value for money – the best price for the best quality, which increasingly includes life-cycle costs such as parts, maintenance and even disposal.
The tender process
The tendering process can be complex – we give you a quick overview below.
The first step in the tender process may often be to complete a questionnaire. This is designed to help the buyer shortlist the most suitable companies and invite them to submit a full tender. In other cases, you may go straight to the tender.
If you are selected, it is vital that you allow enough time to collate the necessary information and to write and submit the tender.
Writing a good tender may take longer than you think, so always make sure you leave enough time for your submission to be proofed by a colleague, who may have feedback to offer – and fresh eyes to see your typos!
If you submit a late tender, your response will be disqualified immediately. To ensure that this does not happen, get your references and all supporting documents in place well in advance, including a covering letter that responds to the bid invitation.
After submitting a bid, it will be scored and evaluated by the buyer. At this point the buyer still might be uncertain about the supplier it wants to work with and may want to examine your bid in greater detail.
In some cases, they may want to check for themselves whether your business can meet their requirements. They may do this by setting up a site visit, interview, or meeting. When a public sector organisation is deciding on suppliers to work with, environmental and social impacts should always be taken into consideration.
As public sector organisations spend using the public purse, they must be open and transparent about the companies that they are spending with. To ensure that public funds are spent with businesses that benefit the community, organisations across the public sector include ethical sourcing policies in their operational standards and principles.
In due course, you will hear whether your bid has been successful or not. Even if you do not win the contract, ask for feedback. Every bidder is entitled to feedback from the buyer, and it may help you to succeed another time.
If you do succeed and are awarded the contract, then the work of fulfilling the contract begins.
How can Supply2Gov help?
Whether you are taking your first steps towards tendering, or just looking to brush up your skills before your next government contract bid, we have got a host of resources to help you every step of the way.
Our Tender Ready Toolkit, which is full of useful hints and tips, can help you get the most out of our tender alerts service as well as develop your tendering strategy.
Here is what you will get in the toolkit:
- Top tendering tips on how to prepare for your next tender
- Step by step guides that help you create a winning email alert profile
- Checklists for completing important documents such as the Selection Questionnaire
Start winning work by registering on Supply2Gov for instant free access to your chosen local area and receive your tender ready toolkit today.
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