If you’re new to the tender response process, Dawtek's Kristine Daw has the following tips to help you write a winning tender. This is the first in our posts from tender industry experts. Kristine brings 20 years of tender writing expertise to our readers.
Make your tender stand out from the crowd
If you’ve been operating a business for long enough, it’s likely that regardless of the sector you’re in, you’re dealing with a lot of competition. It’s no different when it comes to the tender process - your organisation is going to be competing against many others for the same tender. In my experience, we’re talking about hundreds or even thousands of competitors.
So as you can imagine, ensuring your tender stands out from the crowd is vitally important. For example, if you are in the cleaning or security industries, you are more likely to have competition that provide similar services. At the end of the day, it’s those seemingly small details that might just make your bid stand out to a tender panel. I’ve put together some simple and highly effective ways that can really make your tender shine.
- Use all templates and formats provided and follow them carefully
Often, you’ll find that tender specification documents include word counts and file format requests. Make sure you follow these carefully so that you make reading your application as easy as possible for the tender review panel.
- Pay attention to the actual structure of your document
In the event that no specification documents are provided, make sure your tender is clear (use headings wherever possible), flows logically and is organised well. You’ll need an introduction that clearly outlines your main contentions. Utilise visual aids wherever you can. Sometimes, a well-designed infographic is a more effective communication method than writing 1,000 words. Of course, there are also times when writing 1,000 words is more effective - be strategic and deliberate in your approach.
- Do your homework
Walk into the process informed and understand what is required - we’re talking about including necessary ABN details, a company profile, clear pricing, whether you’ll be subcontracting and so on. Always adhere to the criteria in the tender request and be sure not to skip over any finer details. Remember, while a tender sees you discussing and persuading your audience as to how you can benefit them, your tender is all about your potential buyer, their needs and how you can fulfil and exceed their expectations.
- Get your presentation right
Your bid represents your company, so you need to create a template that accurately represents and reflects your brand. Although they’re important, I’m referring to more than simply colours and logos in terms of presentation. Formatting is essential - if something is hard to read because of how it’s formatted, you’re making the judging panel’s task harder, which won’t work in your favour.
You also want to ensure that your bid has been proofread, preferably by someone who isn’t involved in writing your tender application. When you’re looking at a document over and over again over the course of weeks or even months, you start to miss those typos/grammar mistakes that won’t put forward your organisation in the best light possible. It’s well worth paying a professional to proofread and refine your documents.
- Use call-out boxes to highlight information
By their very nature, tender bids are often long by the time you address all of the necessary requirements and criteria outlined. This means that using a call-out box to make certain content stand out, is an incredibly powerful tool. It’s a simple way to alert the tender panel to any information you feel is especially important for them to take in - just be sure that you don’t over-use call-out boxes as that ultimately, defeats the purpose. It’s standard to expect a decent amount of competition during any tender process, but as you’ve read here, there are some simple but highly effective ways you can ensure your bid stands out from the submission pile.
- Use images and graphs to effectively represent information
When I have an initial chat to many clients embarking on the tender process for the first time, they often believe their bid is destined to be bland and lifeless. Consider this: would you rather read five pages of copy detailing information or look at a graph or image that at a glance, communicates the same information more easily and effectively? It’s not a hard question to answer, is it? Just be sure that any images or graphs are actually relevant to your bid (and not used with the intent to make it look prettier as that will backfire and detract from your tender bid).
Whenever possible, tell stories when presenting your information. Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool and helps to ensure that the tender panel remembers your bid. Endless facts and statistics quickly fly out of our brains (it’s human nature), but when you present the same exact information as part of a captivating story, your audience is far more likely to relate to it and remember it. And that means you’re onto a winner!
- Include testimonials and outcomes to demonstrate your ability
We’re living in an age where everyone has a voice, and anyone can pretty much say anything. Sure, you know your business is capable of taking on the tender, but you need to present evidence to back-up your submission. Reach out to past clients to ask for testimonials and present any data or facts that demonstrate your ability to meet and even exceed expectations. Best of all, as long as the information isn’t sensitive in nature, you’ll also be able to repurpose this content for other marketing/PR needs such as media releases, blog writing and so on.
- Proofread your tender meticulously
Not everyone is a writer or a proofreader and that’s okay. The world is made up of people with many different talents. Once your tender is at a level you’re happy with, always proofread it (more than once, on different days preferably too). Use spell check and everything else available to you.
Our best piece of advice for proofreading, is to give your tender to someone who hasn’t been involved in the process. Remember, you’ve probably been looking at this document for hours on end. A fresh set of eyes won’t just pick up those tiny mistakes to ensure your tender is professional, they’ll ensure someone is questioning anything that isn’t entirely clear, or that could be better articulated.
- Be timely with your submission
Don’t see your tender response excluded from consideration because of something silly such as missing the due date. These processes have specific rules that are set in stone and in most cases, that cannot be negotiated. If you’re preparing to submit online, always allow for technical difficulties or challenges (in other words, don’t leave it until the last day to submit your tender).
At Dawtek, my core services are tender writing and tender training. From tender preparation and online tender courses to reviews, critiques and the preparation of supporting documents, I am your one-stop destination for all things tenders.
Oh, and I am part of that small minority of people who actually loves writing tenders!
If you’d like to connect with a tender writing professional with almost two decades’ worth of experience, let’s organise a time to chat.