The secret to turning average tenders and proposals into winning ones is simple: write, and then edit, edit, edit!
How to write
The best way to write is simply to get started. Sometimes you can sharpen your writing by following this methodology:
- Write what you want to say in the sequence that you think of it
- Take the last line and move it to the top
- Rewrite so that it makes sense
- Cut anything that doesn’t fit.
This works on the principle that the act of writing itself helps you organise your thoughts.
Write in straightforward language
No one on the procurement panel wants to spend longer than is necessary reading through response schedules. You will make their work easier by using short sentences and simple language to get your message across as effectively and efficiently as possible.
This means clarity, but not necessarily brevity. Make sure you cover off everything that needs to be covered off; just be aware that waffle adds nothing and can make your key messages harder to pick out.
Similarly, write in the active tense rather than the passive tense. This is because the active tense is more direct and straightforward to read, while the passive tense can be long-winded and sometimes vague.
- ‘Rosemary read the tender’ (active tense)
- ‘The tender was read by Rosemary’ OR ‘The tender was read’ (passive tense)
Answer every question
Make sure you answer every question so that your tender is compliant. If a question is not relevant to you, don’t just leave it out but add a sentence explaining why you have not addressed it. Further, make sure your copy sufficiently answers the question. Sometimes it’s tempting to copy and paste from other tender documents. This can be a great starting point, but it is only that; your answers need to be precise, so you’ll need to edit the text so that it answers the question properly.
Make sure the focus is on the tendering organisation
All too often the focus of a tender is entirely on the tenderer and not on what the prospect will gain from working with them. This is a mistake as the tender documentation gives you the opportunity to show your client focus and set out your understanding of their needs. Like any marketing or business development document, the content should be benefit-focused. It should not be all about yourself, but rather about what the prospect will gain from engaging you.
Graphics can be very persuasive while words on the page can be dull to look at. Look for ways that you can add colour and bring your story and offer to life. Diagrams and images are great ways to add some interest to the page, engage your reader, and communicate information effectively.
Make sure the tender conforms
A huge number of tenders fall at the first hurdle because they are non-conforming. This is often a tremendous amount of effort down the drain over what can be small details, such as word counts and font sizes. Check the details; it’s not worth losing out over something so trivial.