When you think about it, writing a tender is potentially the most important thing you can do for your commercial undertaking. Win that contract, and the resulting new business could change your whole working landscape. But before you rush off to put pen to paper, understand that it’s not just about what you’re going to say in your response – it’s also very much about how you’re going to say it.
Check the tender requirements
Most tenders have a word count which may differ from section to section, so continually check you are coming in under these limits. Has the customer specified what font to use? Have they limited the number of illustrations or photographs allowed? What attachments are they expecting to see? Don’t let all your hard work go to waste simply because you failed to comply with any of these aspects. Even if there are no limits, be sensible about length and content or you’ll risk drowning an assessor with information they haven’t got the will to wade through.
Write in a way that demonstrates you know your audience
You’ll know from your tender analysis what level of detail is expected. Take care to note the jargon and language that’s been used, reflecting it in your responses. It’s especially important to remember that the review panel may have zero knowledge of your business, so they may well be evaluating your suitability based on what they see in front of them only. It’s generally a good idea to write as though you are describing your services to an intelligent lay person.
Get key messages across
A key message is not simply that your widget is fantastic, be that as it may. It’s the less tangible aspects of your solution that you also need to convey throughout. These are ultra-important and include:
· Your solution offers the best value for money
· Your service is top quality and you can back this claim up with evidence
· What you are offering will fit into the broader, future needs of the customer
· You are a leader in your industry and represent low risk for the purchaser
· Your business has the experience and capacity to deliver on time and without risk
Use the right language
Non-technical, concise, clear language is the way to go. Show a real connection with the project by using an active voice rather than a passive one. For example, ‘Technicians will thoroughly test the circuits’ instead of ‘Circuit testing will be done by technicians’. You can also make your message a lot stronger by avoiding conditional verbs such as ‘could’, ‘possibly’, and ‘might’ and using ‘will’ in their place.
Organise your arguments
Beginning each response with a summary statement is a powerful way to answer tender questions. For example, ‘ABC Widgets on-site quality control process will guarantee the quality of all components used in the build’. Then go on to describe that process, starting a new, brief paragraph for each supporting point.
Check design and layout
Have you followed the RFP’s format requirements? Check that you’ve set everything out as clearly and concisely as possible. Use informative headings and subheadings to draw the assessor’s eye, using a consistent style to avoid it looking messy. Break up overly long paragraphs by starting another or re-write to say the same thing in a much tighter way or summarise by using bullet points.
Your tender timetable should have allowed plenty of time for your completed response to be reviewed by someone else. They will cross check that you’ve answered all criteria clearly, that your response is compliant with the set guidelines and that there are no spelling errors. Consider employing a professional tender writer and proofreader to assess your submission; they’ll correct any errors and give your response the polish it may still be lacking.
Overall, be absolutely certain that you have answered every question, fulfilled every requirement and can prove every claim you have made. Then, you’ll be in with a chance.