5 Winning Ways to Win Tenders
When it comes to tender writing, many small businesses (and large ones, too) find the process overwhelming and avoid applying altogether. The result? Lost opportunity! Generally, an organisation going out to tender has a lucrative project they’re looking to get in the right hands, or they’re seeking panelists they can trust to add to an approved supplier list for ongoing work opportunities. Never think you’re out of the running being a small business – sometimes small and agile can play in your favour. But you’ll need to prove your capacity and capability through your response.
Here are our 5 tips to get you started. If you want more specific coaching or have a tender in mind you wish to be in the running for, reach out and chat to us today.
Know what’s available
You’ve got to be in it to win it, so the first step is to stay abreast of opening and closing tenders. By subscribing to a tender portal, you can set up alerts for industry keywords that are relevant to yours, and be emailed when opportunities arise. Sign up for free alerts from the Australian Government or the state government you operate in (links are here for QLD, VIC, NSW, TAS, SA, WA, NT, ACT). There are also many paid versions available, which can capture enterprise opportunities available outside government agency procurement. We personally use Australian Tenders which costs us about $50/month, paid quarterly.
A mistake many people make is to read the introductory paragraph or Request for Response document (the page with the questions to answer) and assume they are eligible. Tenders often come with a suite of documents outlining why they’re looking, what they’re looking for, the tender process, and more. Take the time to read every document before deciding if it’s a tender to go for or not. Often there will be a lot more information in the supporting documents than the Request for Response; this can help you decide if you’re capable of delivering what’s being asked. They may also ask for you to complete a statutory declaration which can take time to have witnessed so don’t leave the checks and balances to the last minute.
Establish a tender team
It’s pretty challenging to compile, write, and proofread a tender on your own (not impossible, just not pleasant!). Where you can, set up a tender team so 2-5 people are involved. Review and brainstorm the tender together (I like to highlight keywords, concepts and criteria to refer back to) and allocate responsibilities and timelines. You can reverse engineer from the due date back to establish your own milestones.
Write great copy
Your response is ultimately what will influence the panelists in their decision – everything else is simply box-ticking for compliance. When writing, the number one rule is to know your audience. Remember the panelists are comparing your response with dozens, if not hundreds, of other entries, so you need to create an impression. The panelists are reviewing your response based on the information supplied in the documentation provided. My tip for writing with a purpose (in this case, win a tender) is to inform, inspire, and influence.
- Inform using facts, anecdotes, case studies, statistics, results – first impressions count so put your best foot forward, but be clear and succinct. Pay attention to the elements of your business that will reassure them – security, information privacy, policies, procedures, processes etc.
- Inspire using case studies, expanding on your methodology, outlining KPIs or ways to measure – create a sense of opportunity and possibility.
- Influence comes through all of the above, plus great copywriting skills. Use the Rule of Three (a pattern of three words or ideas, like this list), active voice, and storytelling to take the reader on a journey from raising awareness of who you are to raising the roof for what you do!
Comply with criteria
Meet word limits and deadlines, and format your response according to their instruction. Don’t try to be creative if there’s no request for it. Most tenders use online portals now as a system which helps judges read through the entries with consistency.
Why stop at 5? I’ve added 2 bonus tips to complete the list:
**BONUS: Ask for feedback
If you’re not successful (or even if you are) you can ask to receive the judge’s feedback. This can help you learn and make changes for your next application.
Professional tender writers and copywriters are skilled in adapting their writing for the audience and platform. If you can afford to outsource a tender or two, you can re-purpose that quality copy for future tenders (and awards and grants, too!), so it’s a great investment. If you can’t afford to engage a tender writer as a small business, you may wish to discuss consulting options with them (like the sessions we offer at COPY CRED), so you can build your skills for future opportunities.
Corporate communications: how it can help trade businesses keep good staff
Five ways our clients win business awards (and how you can, too)
Enhancing Client Engagement: The Power of Corporate Communications for Allied Health Brands
Boost your chance of winning a Women in Law Award.
Our pick of Australia’s Top 30 Business Awards