Top 5 Tips for Better Tendering

In November 2023, Roz Misiani (Principal Consultant and founder of ProposalPro) delivered a talk to business leaders at the Belmont Enterprise Centre, about how businesses can win more work and minimise risk through effective tendering

This post is based on the content covered that evening, summarising Roz’s top 5 tips gleaned from over two decades in the proposal management industry. 

Please follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe for more updates.

Roz Misiani (Principal Consultant, ProposalPro) giving a talk about Top 5 Tendering Tips

I would like to share with you a crucial aspect of business and procurement – the art and science of tendering. Whether you are a seasoned professional or someone just embarking on this journey, understanding the ins and outs of the tendering process is vital for the success of any organisation.

First and foremost, what is tendering? In essence, tendering is the formal process of inviting bids or proposals from suppliers to provide goods or services at a specified price. Tendering is a cornerstone of business, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. I’d like to share five tips to help you navigate the world of tendering effectively.

Tip number 1 – Prepare, read and research

Prepare as much as possible before the bid opens. Bid deadlines are often very short, leaving you scant time to prepare a compelling submission. Do as much of the groundwork as possible in advance. Subscribe to Early Tender Advice updates (for example, from government databases, and our partner Australian Tenders).

Look for previous RFTs/RFPs from the client for similar scopes of work, or other companies/agencies operating in similar industries/sectors, to get an idea of expectations. And make sure all your necessary insurances are current, and CVs are up to date – you don’t want to be scrambling at the last moment.

Read the documents carefully! This can’t be stated enough; you need to understand exactly what it is you’re bidding for, whether the scope of work aligns with what you can deliver, and whether you can submit a bid that is compliant and competitive, as well as aligned with your business strategy and at a realistic price point. Not every opportunity will be right for you.

You’ll also want to engage in market research to appreciate who you may be bidding against, and consider what unique value you can bring to the table that your competitors cannot.

Learn more >> To bid or not to bid? Bid Decisionmaking

Market research will help you to better understand the prospective buyer, and competitors that may also tender for an opportunity.

Tip number 2 – Understand the mandatory requirements

While you’re reading the document, you’ll come across various mandatory requirements that you’ll need to comply with in order to be considered for this opportunity. It’s often the case that a mandatory requirement will be buried deep in the small print, and this is all-too-frequently the cause of a bid deemed non-compliant and being rejected.

  • Non-Compliant: a bid that does not comply in full with the client’s mandatory requirements.

This is unfortunately a common occurrence in industry, and can lead to your bid being rejected, with significant wasted resources on your part. So it’s critical to:

  • fully understand bid requirements at the outset
  • ensure you will be able to achieve compliance requirements
  • review your bid carefully before submission (ideally, several times) to make sure you’ve clearly addressed all compliance criteria.

(Who should be reviewing the bid for compliance
, you may wonder? Best practice states that this should not be the bid writer, but rather another party – of course, your bid writer should always be working towards compliance, but that second pair of eyes is crucial.)

Some examples of mandatory requirements may include site visits, compulsory attendance at briefing sessions, insurance levels of cover, or the bidding entity holding an ISO accreditation.

Tip number 3 – Ensure clear and concise responses

Clarity really is key – ensure that your tender documents are precise and well-structured. Ambiguity can lead to misunderstandings that can disadvantage a bidder – we’ve often managed large, multi-million dollar, complex bids where our client’s team has interpreted the buyer requirements incorrectly. There’s often a deadline after which bid clarifications will not be accepted, so make sure you understand what you’re being asked, and answer the right questions.

Learn more >> Don’t let ‘word limits’ limit your proposal

Clear, concise writing can dramatically improve your tender win rate.

Tip number 4 – Terms and conditions to tendering

Different geographic regions and industries can have very different specific regulations governing the tendering process. While you don’t need to know these in the absolute detail that the procurement professional issuing a RFT/RFP/RFQ does, you still need to be aware that these exist, familarise yourself with the high-level detail, and be aware that the entity issuing the opportunity is bound to these rules.

This will help you to understand the “why” behind the document you’re responding to, ensure compliance, and understand exactly what T&Cs you’re agreeing to in performance of that contract.

An excellent example is the Commonweath of Australia’s set of governance standards called the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, which offer significant insight into what Government agencies and entities are looking for when they issue a tender.

A cautionary tale: ProposalPro recently worked with an ASX-listed entity here in Perth. We helped them to achieve preferred bidder status for a Federal Government Contract worth millions of dollars.

During the client’s negotiations with the buyer, they were requested to provide an updated Statement of Tax Record because, since submitting the tender, their STR had expired. The reason for the request (expired STR) was made clear to the client.

Unfortunately, the client didn’t comply with the instructions; they submitted the same expired document again, and were subsequently deemed non-compliant and removed from the preferred bidders list. The expiry date on that one document was enough to lose an opportunity they had already won.

As you’ve seen from this example, there is very little leeway for mistakes, so you must take absolute care in adherence to T&Cs (and of course, read any correspondence from buyers carefully!)

Finally, tip number 5 -Proofread and review your documents

Before submitting your responses, carefully proofread all your documents, checking for errors, typos, lack of clarity, and excessive repetition. You’ll also need to very carefully double-check your pricing. Your offer is a commitment, and you can be bound by this.

In the proposal management industry, a widely-used technique used for proofreading is colour team reviews, which is a logical, systemic process of review stages designed to bring an RFP response to completion in its best possible form. Reviews are held at various levels of maturity of the bid, and how many reviews will take place will particularly depend on the complexity of the bid and the length of time you have available.

Ongoing review stages over the course of proposal development will help your bid writer or writing team to improve proposal quality and incorporate feedback in a timely fashion.

What’s next?

In today’s competitive business environment, mastering the art of winning work is a critical skill. As you embark on your journey through the world of tendering, remember that tendering success will enable you to expand your operations, increase your revenue, and maintain a competitive edge.

Tendering is a specialist field that requires a distinct set of multidisciplinary skills and knowledge. For your best chance of success, work with a bid manager who can support you to develop a compelling, compliant and competitive bid that showcases your business in its best light.

Learn more >> Why outsourcing bid management will add value to your business

Want to win more work, with less headaches? Talk to ProposalPro today.

Learn more about Bids and Tenders >>

Working with weighted criteria | ProposalPro

Working with weighted criteria

Business owners often express confusion about working with average weighted criteria – it’s not a framework that you’ll come across too often outside of tendering. But it can tell you a surprising amount about what’s important to the buyer, how to read between the lines and structure your tender response to maximise your chances of success, and even whether it’s worth putting together a bid in the first place…

Read more ›