To win big deals, sooner or later you are going to need to write and submit successful tenders.
Inevitably, these are usually sizeable documents although, increasingly, they are submitted online rather than by delivering a hefty ring binder containing 100 pages of tender response, tab dividers and appendices.
Yet, faced with the need to respond to an invitation to tender, salespeople in smaller businesses often encounter a ‘Catch-22’ situation. The sales teams at their larger competitors typically have in-house bid writers to prepare professional looking tender documents on their behalf, thus greatly increasing their chances of winning the deal. Hence, while the large companies grow larger, the sales director in the smaller firm is left to reflect on what might have been. If your business finds itself in this situation, you would be well advised to enhance your bid capability.
In general, sales professionals are not best suited to tender writing: sitting for hours at a computer does not play to their strengths. The paradox is that a tender is a crucial part of the sales process; it acts as a ‘silent salesman’ in front of the buying team when the supplier is unable to be present in person. If you do not want the hassle of intensive writing then putting the tender together, you could consider using a specialist bid writing service.
Professional tender specialists have become established for that reason – to remove the handicap that SMEs often face in the tendering process when compared with their better-resourced rivals. There must be thousands of SME businesses that avoid tendering altogether because they believe that it is too complicated and doubt they would have any success with the tender process. This is ironic given that the government has said that it wants to see more smaller firms participate in the public sector. A particular problem for SMEs is that, although they might be very good at what they do, they are not always adept at putting this into words. Moreover, with tender documents often demanding a plethora of policies including corporate social responsibility, equal opportunities, environmental and sustainability, information security and so on, SMEs often do not know where to start. Tender documents can be notoriously complex, often reading like legal documents and, for the uninitiated, they can be highly intimidating. Bid writing specialists can lend their experience to this process and enable SMEs to present their appropriate company information clearly and succinctly.
When working with a new client a tender specialists will initially explain how the process works and then discuss the likelihood of success for them. There is, obviously, no point in spending time on a bid that there is little chance of winning. For every opportunity you need to decide ‘bid or no bid’. It is obviously in the tender specialist’s interest to do all they can to ensure that the client wins the bid.
Bid writing specialists work through each tender document, devising a way of presenting the client in the best possible light and in a way that puts them on a level playing field with their larger rivals. What is key for all bidders to understand is that the organisation inviting the tender is only interested in the extent to which the supplier can match what they are looking for without any marketing puff. There is a danger for the uninitiated of putting in a lot of unnecessary promotional material: this does not go down too well; it will not be scored and will irritate the evaluation panel.
Any organisation that tenders regularly needs to develop a bid library. This consists of all regularly used product/service descriptions and all supporting material such as business continuity plans, annual accounts, quality accreditations, insurance certificates and so on, that can be used again and again. Having everything available in one place makes it easier to put the next bid together. Many people find tenders onerous – sometimes a sales person gets lumbered with one when he or she would rather do anything but.
Specialist bid writers actually enjoy writing them: they are enthusiastic about the process and rightly so, after all, it is how they make their living. Above all, it is a great feeling when the buyer’s decision is announced and a finely crafted tender wins the business!
For more information about tender writing visit www.winningtenders.co.uk.