February 21, 2022

Answer the bloody question: five reasons why you’re not winning tenders

When you’re pretty hot on pricing but still can’t seem to win a tender, you probably need to look at the rest of the bid.

Yes, pricing is the deal-breaker but the other sections carry marks too. Valuable extra points can be won with a well-written case for your organisation. Here are some common reasons for scoring low marks in tenders and how to avoid them:

  1. Didn’t answer the questions: the best advice for bids and important application forms is the same we got from our teachers at school: answer the question asked. Many of us fall into the trap of recycling bits of copy from other tenders and sources that have no bearing on what was asked. This can come across as disjointed, repetitive or waffly. Answer the actual question and make sure to point out how relevant your approach or experience is to the project in question.
  1. Didn’t follow the specification: where the tenderer has provided you with a structure for the bid, ignore it at your peril. The evaluators expect you to adhere to it. Not doing so gives them an opportunity to exclude your response, and maybe you deserve that!
  1. Didn’t back up big claims: you’ve heard the phrase ‘Self praise is no praise’. That’s my motto. Keep the superlatives to a minimum but demonstrate your experience, excellence or suitability through case studies, references, awards and accolades.
  1. Spoke a different language: the evaluator will no doubt understand industry terms, but beware the overuse of jargon. Worse is corporate speak, which is vague by definition - it was designed to fudge. Your evaluator needs specifics to be able to give you marks. Review every sentence you’ve written and ask yourself if it will be understood by the evaluator and if it will lead to more marks. If the answer to either is ‘No’, rephrase or delete it.
  1. Ran out of time: a big issue with tenders is not allowing enough time. How many of us have burned the midnight oil to meet a tender deadline and are horrified to find, when the dust has settled, that the document is full of silly errors and unanswered questions simply because we were rushing. 
Avoid these pitfalls and you will end up with a fluent, incisive case for winning the tender.

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