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How to write a winning tender

By Michelle Pittorino

A tender is a written ‘offer’ submitted in response to an invitation to supply goods and services.  

Hundreds of thousands of these invitations are issued each year, from all tiers of government and private organisations, for almost every type of good or service imaginable.  

Tendering is a great way to secure business. However, this process is almost always competitive. So, it is essential to know how to write tenders that will win. 

Specialist tendering organisation BidWrite senior bid consultant Kelly Richmond says for many companies tendering is time consuming, daunting and frustrating.  

This is particularly true if they put in all the effort but frequently not win the bid 

“One of the most common mistakes businesses make in responding to tenders is they are not well positioned to win,” she says.  

“They spend a lot of time, effort and resources going for opportunities that they have a low probability of winning.  

“With so many tenders available online these days, it is common for companies to want to ‘bid for everything’. But it is so important to choose bids wisely.  

Richmond recommends clients ask themselves the following questions before they decide to bid 

  • Do you know the customer 
  • Do you know who you are up against?  
  • Can you deliver the services?  
  • Are you well placed to win?  

If the answer is no to these questions, then we recommend that they don’t bid,” she says.  

Richmond says being selective on what you pursue is critical to tender success.  

By selecting opportunities where you ideally have a relationship with the customer and know your competitors strengths and weaknesses, you can write more targeted responses,” she says 

Richmond also lists some essential things to remember when you are tendering: 

  • It’s not all about you: Write for your customer. What matters to them? Demonstrate that you understand their specific needs or challenges. Then show how your solution is going to address those needs or challenges. 
  • Tell a compelling story:  Demonstrate why your goods and services are better than your competitors.  
  • Include a cover letter: It’s a great way to summarise the key benefits of your offer. 
  • Stick to the facts: Back up your statements with evidence such as metrics, testimonials and detailed case studies. Avoid motherhood statements that you can’t back up.    
  • Show value for money: Price is critical but also demonstrate that you offer the customer the best value and a strong return on investment.  
  • Follow the rules: While you won’t necessarily win with a compliant tender, it will certainly stop you from being disqualified from the process. 
  • Keep it concise: Keep your writing clear, easy to read and avoid jargon. Empty motherhood statements and generalisations waste the time of the tender evaluators.  
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute: Rushed, poor quality submissions can negatively impact the customer’s perception of you.   

A tender is a written ‘offer’ submitted in response to an invitation to supply goods and services.  

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