If your business submits tenders, proposals or bids to win new business, there’s probably been times when you’ve wondered if it’s worth the effort.
Preparing successful tender responses, bids and proposals takes energy and perseverance.
It’s no mean feat to write a winning tender. If it’s something you’ve been struggling with, never fear. We’ve put together our expert tips for a successful tender response below.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, these tender writing tips will help you. We’ve got more than 1000 tenders behind us for clients tendering to public and private companies and government organisations. We’ve also got over 20 years’ experience of writing tenders, proposals and bids, so you can be confident that we know what we’re talking about.
1. Answer the tender questions properly and succinctly
Writing successful tenders is a fine art. It’s important to answer each question concisely whilst presenting your business as the obvious choice. Hence, writing tender responses is a mix of clear, professional writing with a marketing edge.
Being sure to answer the questions precisely may sound obvious, but so many tenders fail because the tender writer has waffled on, thereby failing to answer the question precisely and succinctly. There’s a reason why so many requests for tender have word count limits.
On that note, ensure that you stick to word count limits. Any words over the limit won’t be read and you’ll have wasted your time.
In 9 out of 10 requests for tender, there will be a response schedule to complete. It’s vital to use the tender response template.
2. Keep your tender writing short and sweet
As mentioned in point one above, keep your answers succinct when writing responses to the questions in the request for tender.
Yours won’t be the only tender or proposal received. The recipient will be wading through many, perhaps even hundreds of tender responses. Make your tender writing stand out by keeping the words to the limits, if any, and writing in plain English.
It’s a good idea to have an expert copy editor to edit your tender response. Good copy editors are worth their weight in gold. They’ll transform what could be a mediocre draft tender into a compelling tender response.
There are lots of ways to cut the waffle when writing tenders, and indeed any business documents. For example:
For the purpose of… instead use…To
In order to… instead use…To
A wide range of… instead use… Many
For the reason that… instead use…Because, Since
3. Use the active voice to be more direct and clearer
Winning tenders and proposals are often written in the active voice. What’s this? It’s a tighter, more direct way to write tenders compared to its opposite, the passive voice.
In the active voice, the voice of a verb is doing the action.
In the passive voice, the subject is having something done to it.
We are submitting our tender.
Rosemary is writing about tendering.
This tender is being submitted by…
This article about tendering was written by Rosemary.
4. Don’t use these words in your tender
There’s also a whole bunch of words to avoid using when writing tender responses. If you’re the tender writer, avoiding these will keep you on track. Take a look here.
5. Personalise your tender response
Very often when we read clients’ previous tenders, we have no idea who they were tendering to. There’s no use of the prospect’s name.
But personalising your tender response is very useful tender writing technique.
If you’re the tender writer, using the prospect’s name and words such as ‘you’ and ‘your’ will bring the focus onto them. It helps to make a connection. And your tender becomes all about them and what they will gain by working with you.
6. Tell the prospect what’s in it for them
At the very least, your prospect wants to understand how they will benefit by choosing your company. Keep it simple – and just tell them.
Whenever you describe your business’ experience, people, service or product in your tender response, be sure to include a statement about how this will benefit them.
One way to do this is to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask yourself, “How will I benefit from this?” Or, very simply, “What’s in it for me?”
7. Give hard evidence for your service’s or product’s success
Tender responses, proposals and bids often include statements along the lines of “we are the leading/fastest/largest/oldest/best value provider of…”
Whilst these features may be exciting to you, they are of little interest to anyone else. Being the biggest doesn’t mean the best, of course.
So, don’t include such statements unless you have hard evidence to prove your claim and why it is of value to the prospect.
Back up your claims by using quotes from the media or happy clients, award wins or good survey results to show that what you say about your business, product or service is genuine.
Another way to give evidence is to include short and punchy case studies that highlight how your company adds value to its clients.
Mini case studies show how you have helped clients to save time or money, or how you create innovative solutions to a clients’ problem.
8. Make sure there’s no mistakes
An error free tender response may not win you the contract, but one with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors could lose you the tender.
Have a professional proofreader to proofread your final draft. Check every word, and while you’re at it, check that you’ve met all the requirements for lodgement and attachments.
9. Make sure your tender is compliant
Submitting a complying tender is non-negotiable. If you don’t attach all the required documents, tick all the boxes and answer all the questions, you won’t make it past the first stage. After all your hard work, it would be very disappointing to fail at the first assessment by the prospect’s procurement team.