A skilled tender writer is a core requirement if you’re looking to create professional tenders. Tenders are an essential part of everyday business, and need careful consideration and construction if they are to be effective, Writing a tender is a little like writing a business plan – both outline a series of processes and resources that constitute a business operation. Of course, both differ considerably in their focus! What both have in common, however, is that a touch of persuasion can make all the difference to prospective clients!
Using persuasive language techniques and competent copywriting, we craft tenders to suit your outline. What’s the point offering a great service or product if you tender isn’t up to scratch? Thanks to our marketing experience, we know what sells and what doesn’t. Consulting closely with your business, we work to your outline and brief to create an easy-to-read, convincing tender. If you have a request for tender response, get in touch with us today – we’ll help you make it happen!
What is a Tender?
A tender is a response to a request for provision of goods or services, and usually involves an extensive written document. The reason that the tender process is so often used is that it generates competition, enabling the client to achieve the best value for money.
Tendering is an important way of providing your business with long term stability through winning ongoing contracts, and allows you to build your reputation through providing services to high profile Government and corporate clients. Anyone who is serious about building their business must respond to tenders, but needs to respond in the correctly in order to have any chance of being successful.
What does a Tender Response Involve?
In order to submit a tender, you must first obtain the tender documents from the client or procurement website. The client will usually release a Request for Tender (RFT), in addition to a contract and supporting documentation. The tender documents provide information on the project and client requirements, forming the basis of the response. Tender response documents can range from between 15 and 500 plus pages of written and pricing content, which can take a long time to put together.
Responses are separated into the following categories:
• Request for Tender (RFT) – This is the most complicated and lengthy response type, and is evaluated by the client according to defined selection criteria
• Request for Proposal (RFP) – Proposals are usually less involved than tenders, and allow the client to evaluate your capability in a less formal way
• Request for Quotation (RFQ) – RFQs are often a way of eliminating lengthy submissions by asking respondents to provide pricing and a brief written response
• Expression of Interest (EOI) – EOIs are usually a shorter written response, and may not include submission of pricing.
The Importance of a Good Tender Response
Your tender gives the client an impression on the overall professionalism and capability of your company, so every tender should be approached with the highest attention to detail. Your tender should be written by someone who specialises in tenders, with adequate time to complete the response on your behalf.
While countless providers may respond to a tender, usually only one company is successfully appointed. This means that you can waste weeks, months or even years responding to tenders, without any guarantee of success.
In tender evaluation, the response is analysed by procurement professionals who will appoint the successful provider based on defined criteria. Evaluation usually includes analysis of your company’s size, resources, reputation, pricing and capability, so all of these factors pay a role in the decision making. Because tendering is so competitive, it is an unwise decision to leave your tender in the hands of someone inexperienced. They will be writing against professionals from each tendering company, and can detract from your chances of success, making the tender process a waste of time and money. A better decision would be to engage an experienced professional, who will increase your chances of being appointed to the contract.
Making Bid Decisions
Securing tenders with high profile clients can often be the only way of building your company’s reputation, so tenderers often have no choice but to respond. The challenge with the tender process is that you are never guaranteed to win. However, the only way to have a chance of securing these contracts is to tender for them, so the best solution is to be selective about the tenders you go after, refining the list down to genuine opportunities. These include contracts with companies where your company has a past relationship with the client, or services where you have a strong demonstrated capability.
For the inexperienced writer, responding to tenders carries a multitude of pitfalls and areas of risk that can get your company into serious trouble. Examples of common areas of risk in tenders include the following:
• Contractual clauses – almost every tender has a contract attached to it, which your company must review and respond to in order to confirm acceptance. If you simply accept the contractual terms without having them reviewed, you can accept legal responsibility for unfair clauses which could have a serious impact on your business. This is why you should always have the contract reviewed by a professional, and put forward proposed amendments with your tender response if you cannot accept the contractual terms.
• Tendering language – if your tender is written in the wrong style it can present an increased risk of contract violation by accepting unnecessary legal responsibility for aspects of your service. For example, if you were to write “we will ensure that all key milestones are met at every stage throughout the project” in your tender, you would then be held contractually responsible for that promise. If you were then to miss one of these deadlines, you would then be in breach of your contract, creating exposure to legal risk. This is why tenders should be responded to by experienced writers who are familiar with the rules of tender language.
• Commercial mistakes – pricing your service is probably the most important aspect of your tender response because the balance between profit margin and competitiveness will mean the difference between winning and losing a contract. If you price it too highly you will never have a chance of being appointed, but if you price it too cheaply you could lose significant amounts of money over the life of the contract. This is why pricing the service should be one of the most carefully considered aspects of the response, giving you the best chance of winning the tender at a sustainable margin.
The role of ‘Tender Writer‘ has been recently created, and was designed to maximise the chances of tendering successfully by creating a specialised position. Specialisation allows people to develop extensive writing skill, leading to much swifter tender responses that give the best chance of winning. After working internally for companies to gain experience, many of these Tender Writers become available on a consultancy basis, giving you access to the expertise they have developed through years of experience. Engaging one of these professionals to manage your tender response has a number of benefits, including the following:
• Increasing your chances of putting together a winning response
• Outsourcing most of the work involved, allowing yourself and your staff to focus on their usual roles
• Dramatically decreasing the time taken to respond to tenders by engaging experienced writers, therefore giving you a more manageable timeline, and a higher quality response
• Protecting your company from legal risk, such as contractually binding statements and commercial errors
• Preventing brand damage against your company as a result of poor tender responses.
Responding to tenders is a vital component of running a successful business, but how do you find the time to respond to these lengthy submissions while doing your full time job? Also, if you’ve never tendered before, you’re up against experienced contenders, and can be exposed to all kinds of commercial and legal risk if you aren’t sure what you’re writing about. For these reasons, engaging a professional consultant to manage the tender process for you is an ideal solution, allowing you to submit a competitive tender which will increase your chances of being successful, while protecting you against associated risks.
Engaging an external consultant to write your tender will allow you to complete your response in a fraction of the time it would normally take. As opposed to writing or delegating internally, you can simply discuss the project over the phone with your consultant, and submit any supporting information to them via email. The consultant will then liaise with yourself or company contacts to put together the required information, and submit drafts for your review. You can then nominate any changes to the content of the tender, and approve the final draft before submission, ensuring you are fully satisfied with the end result.
In making bid decisions, you need to consider the benefits of winning the response against the time and money that will be invested in the tender process. People often underestimate how long the response will take to complete internally, and how much of an impact it will have on daily business. The last thing you want to do when responding to tenders is give your existing clients sub-standard service, because then you are losing business rather than building it. There are also significant costs involved in responding internally, this is why outsourcing your tender to a professional is such an effective option. It gives you the best chances of winning your response, while eliminating internal costs, and allowing you to maintain productivity.
While many people are willing to have a go at writing their own tenders, amateur responses carry a multitude of commercial and legal risks. Some company owners will attempt to save money by completing tenders internally alongside their usual staff responsibilities, but this tends to be a false economy as a result of productivity loss and a potentially poor tender response. The amount of time taken to respond to a tender is also often underestimated, putting your staff under pressure to write a long and complicated document within a challenging timeframe.
Consulting for Smaller Companies
Smaller companies often do not have their own internal tenders department, meaning the people who would respond to the tender have full time roles to fulfil in addition to responding to the tender. This can result in a poor quality response, which can not only destroy your chances of winning the current tender, but can also damage your reputation for future bids. The challenge for smaller companies is that you are tendering against larger corporations with greater resources, coverage and financial backing. These companies often have expert tenders departments, who know their products and services well and produce highly competitive responses.
Smaller companies may not have adequate demand for tender responses to have a dedicated person assigned to this task, so the best way to compete is to engage an experienced consultant on a regular basis. This allows you to develop a successful working relationship with the consultant, while giving them a chance to get to know your company’s strengths and how to sell them. Engaging a Tender Writing Consultant takes the pressure off the tender process by giving you access to an experienced professional, who will put together the best response within the defined timeframe.
Consulting for Larger Companies
Larger companies often have dedicated tenders departments, but often respond to too many tenders to allow their staff adequate time to put together decent responses. Companies often attempt to respond to every tender they possibly can, but this often results in winning less tenders due to poor standards of response. Engaging an external Tender Writer can be a valuable asset for larger companies in terms of assisting internal tenders departments when they are at maximum capacity. When people are under too much pressure, they tend to make mistakes, which can have serious implications in the tendering field. This is why engaging a consultant to respond to overflow tenders is a good idea for larger companies, allowing you to continue to respond to all current tenders while your team is at full capacity.
Onsite Consulting vs Offsite
Engaging a tender writing consultant onsite can be a useful way of completing your tender, but having an offsite consultant is often more beneficial, and gives you the same result without the intrusion. Onsite consulting is often more expensive than offsite consulting, as your writer needs to cost in travel and sometimes charge a higher rate to account for losing other jobs.
Communication is vital to the tender process, but an offsite consultant can communicate just as effectively as an onsite consultant, using telephone and email. Email communication is to be encouraged as much as possible during tenders, as every conversation is then documented to allow better project management. An offsite consultant works from their own premises, eliminating the need for them to use site computers and equipment.
1. The organisation requesting the tender decides on the tender process to be used. This sets out the protocol that will be followed for the deal.
2. A Request For Tender (RFT) is then produced by the tender-requesting party. This invites relevant businesses to submit proposals as per the outlined tendering process.
3. The supplier organisations submit their tenders for review. This is an involved process whereby all required documentation and information is collated for the tender review process.
4. Tenders are evaluated, with the one deemed most appropriate accepted. Contract negotiations can now begin.
Our tender consulting reviews are a great way to familiarise yourself with the process. Ask us about a one-on-one tender advice session.