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10 communication mistakes that stop you winning work by tender

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Winning is a formality

You’d be amazed at the number of companies who think they have tenders won before they even start putting their bid together. They may have spent years setting their business up precisely for this one tender, but then fail at the bid stage because they priced too high, they offer too many options or they did not respond to the precise requirements of the Request For Proposal. Don’t assume that your great client relationship is a winning factor because you may have an incorrect read on the situation. Be no.1, but act like no.2.

No bid leader

It is critical that the bidding organisation has a senior bid leader capable of making decisions and pulling all of the core information together – price, technical detail and message. The wrong leader will make a bid process extremely difficult and potentially unsuccessful.

Leaving it till the last minute

If you have spent years getting your business ready for this one contract, why leave your bid preparation to the last couple of weeks? Last minute rushing often leads to costly mistakes. Start early: six months out is a useful minimum, but if you can start work earlier, so much the better.

Not blowing your trumpet

Many Kiwi businesses find it hard to express why they are so good at what they do – and don’t like to blow their own trumpets. However, this is the time to get the brass section warmed up because if you don’t tell the client why you should be chosen above all others, no one else will. This can be done with subtlety and finesse: it doesn’t have to make you cringe. Don’t forget: this a prime opportunity to market to your client and show how good you really are. Don’t waste it.

Not getting proper help

Just because you are a technical expert with decades of experience in your industry, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are good at communicating what sets you apart from your competition. And the Tender Evaluation Team reviewing your bid may not all be technical people. While technical detail is always an important part of a bid, unless you have a professional communicator on staff you should always consider how an outside resource could help you, because an outsider can also often add the fresh-eyes perspective that may form a major part of the Tender Evaluation Team. The relatively small expense of hiring a professional could make the difference between you winning that game-changing contract – or not.

Bad design and photos

There is never an excuse for poor design and photography in a bid. Your bid should always be the one that has a coherent theme and looks the best. Likewise, your team should always be professionally photographed out doing their job, preferably in the location of the bid, not stuck at a desk. And they should SMILE: happy people look enthusiastic, which is appealing to potential clients. Your office administrator is never the person to take the photos of your team: it makes your team – and your bid - look second-rate. 
Get professional help.

Copy and paste complacency

Never send in a generic off-the-shelf document that talks about what you offer to “your clients”. This immediately tells the specific organisation to whom you are pitching that you have used your standard material, and that you don’t care about them as much as you care about what you can do: contractor ‘push’, not customer ‘pull’. 


Not answering the questions

Take care and spend time at the beginning of the preparation process to identify exactly what the client wants from you. If you fail to meet their criteria, you’ll never get the work. Likewise, always apply the ‘so what?’ test to your answers: do they answer the questions you are being asked? If not, do them again.

Not showing the benefits to the client

All your track record, relevant experience and key people material in your bid should be focussed entirely on how they will be applied on this contract to the client’s benefit. Use proof stories about how you have applied your experience etc to the client’s benefit before and underscore the benefits you intend to provide the new client by listing your specific commitments.

Just doing enough

The most successful bids are always the ones in which the question ‘what MORE can we offer’ is asked at the beginning of the process and then regularly and frequently until completion. Always assume that your competition is throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the bid – so what more can you offer that your competition cannot?

Too much emphasis in one area

Price + technical detail + theme + message + the right people + good imagery all have a significant part to play in successful bids. Too much – or not enough – emphasis in any of these areas can lead to an unbalanced bid. Take care to include all these elements fully.

Being boring

The best bids are easy to view and read. Always assume that your bid is going to be the last one read on a sunny Friday afternoon and ask yourself: what would I like to see if I was in this situation? If your bid is dull and lifeless, is it not reasonable for your potential client to assume that is how you are as an organisation?

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