The reviewer's guide to what makes an engaging tender response
We’ve reviewed hundreds of tender documents for clients in our roles as consultants in the tender procurement process for organisations looking to source new services. We’ve read through vast numbers of poorly-written and badly-conceived responses and a much smaller number of well-written and interesting documents which captivate the reader.
Needless to say, it’s the quality of the document as much as the price that will eventually win the coveted contract, so what advice can we give you from the reviewer’s point of view of what to do and what not to do?
Tender documents have got to work hard to convey your organisation, brand and sales proposition in your absence. Engaging the reviewer is an essential part of this process, and this doesn’t always come down to content. Decision makers will often have a large number of tender documents to review for any new contract, so it is important to understand what will make yours stand out from the rest. Only too often not enough effort and quality is given to this last and absolutely key part of the sales process, losing organisations deals that they have already significantly invested in with cost of sales.
In most cases we find the ultimate responsibility for the response is with the sales department and most sales personalities do not always have the correct skills, or ability to write well written tender responses.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Don’t underestimate the advantage of creative input: good design and creative thinking will grab your audience’s attention and demonstrate how your organisation can communicate effectively. One option is to use an external creative expert or designer to work with you to produce a professional tender document that accurately represents your company and makes you stand out. First impressions are really important and this is your only opportunity to get your message across without being in the room.
Don’t rest on your laurels
Even if you are retendering for an existing contract or the client already knows you, treat every tender as if it is your first and highlight recent achievements that they may not be aware of. Complacency is a killer and your competitors will be putting in the effort to win the contract so make sure that you do the same.
Don’t get caught on the back foot
Start to compile a bid library of responses and key documents and certificates that you will need for each tender. One of the areas where suppliers seem to struggle most is time to produce the tender response in line with the timeframes issued by the client. Get organised and never leave it all to the last minute as a rushed proposal will be obvious to the reviewer and poor organisation will reflect badly on your business. It’s not uncommon for businesses to have little to no resource to dedicate to managing bids and this is an area that can be easily outsourced to a tender expert to help write a response within the necessary timeframes. It’s also not as expensive as you think and well worthwhile if the contract you want to win is a really important one for the future of the business.
What is everyone else doing?
Find out what your competitors are up to by doing some research and identifying what your unique selling points are – what makes what you do different from everyone else in the market? This should help to reinforce your message and identify your company values.
Think about presentation
Think about quality design input in making the document visually appealing: images, design and branding can all make a difference. Keep a simple layout and make it easy for the reviewer to keep tabs on the sequence of pages by correct page numbering and tables of contents. When creating sections ensure that they are well defined and easy for the reader to refer back to. Be consistent with font, colour schemes and make sure that you use high resolution print quality images, not ones copied off the web. Invest a bit of money in good images that represent your business and they can be used in all your marketing.
Finally, of vital importance to any document is a good proof reader – your attention to detail and level of competence will be questioned if you present a document full of spelling and grammatical errors. Pass the document round to as many people as possible to proof before sending it out.
As well as using good images, tables and charts can be a great way to liven up a proposal and is a much more appealing way to display vast amounts of data. Bring your data to life with clear and engaging charts and tables which tie in with your brand and colour scheme.
These are just some of the considerations that we wish we could see more of when we review tender responses. Don’t forget, your documents need to speak on your behalf, so make sure they are giving out the right message. We are living in an ever more competitive world and now is not the time to be complacent.
eXceeding can provide expert advice on all of the areas mentioned above, from creative input to copywriting tender responses.
For further information on responding to Bids and Tenders please visit our Bid Writing Services page
Email [email protected] or call 03333 555 111 for all enquires.