11 Tender Writing Sins ... Part One
By: Kris Mills
Put simply, producing a winning tender is all about being able
to sell your company face to face and on paper. It's about
addressing the needs your prospect wants fulfilled, and proving
how you fulfil those needs in the most result-oriented way.
This article introduces you to the most common mistakes people
make when producing tenders and shows you how to learn from
these mistakes and turn them into a positive outcome for your
Sin no. 1. Not knowing"why"
"Not knowing the answer to this question means that your
tender response could miss the mark completely, simply because
you're not aware of any bad experiences or challenges they
have had in the past ."
The reason why a company or a Government body calls for
tenders always plays a HUGE role in what factors are important
to them when selecting a supplier, So, it makes sense knowing
the REAL reasons why. This is something that isn't usually
FULLY listed in the tender documentation.
For instance, if their previous supplier is hopelessly
unreliable, proof of reliability, capacity, and a money back
guarantee will probably be very important to them.
Dig around. Talk to everyone you know in the industry. See
how resourceful you can be.
Telephone the purchasing officer and ask them why they are
calling for tenders, why they want to undertake the project,
and what's important to them.
Strike up a conversation. Get to know them a little and
discover what makes them tick. You'll be surprised at how much
information you can find out - information that will be priceless
in the tender creation process.Attend "meet the buyer's nights.
Ask questions like:
Why do they want to start using this type of product/service now?
Who did they use in the past and why?
Why do they want to change?
What do they know about the potential positives and negatives of
dealing with people?
Why is this of particular importance to them?
Why do they want to change?
Who have they been using in the past?
What did they like or dislike about that supplier?
Discovering the answers to these questions puts you one step closer
to ensuring that your tender response hits the buyer's hot buttons.
Sin no 2. Not addressing the "real", core needs
Quite often, what's written in tender documentation only tells
half the story. Either that or, it might be a comprehensive
document, but the core hot buttons are buried within pages and
pages of material and they're often easy to miss.
Unfortunately, many tender submissions miss the point completely.
They're completed in such a rush that they simply don't address
the "obvious" criteria, let alone, the "read between the lines"
Having said this, Government tender documentation (especially)
is so long that it is easy to forget an important element. The
document will often include mandatory and desirable requirements,
a Schedule of Particulars, Evaluation Criteria, Project Description,
Government purchasing policy and regulations and a background and
scope to the project.
Usually, each of these areas reveals some priceless piece of
information that you can then use in your document. Instead, many
potential suppliers just fill out the Schedule of Particulars and
address the evaluation criteria, but not address any other points
revealed in the background material.
The background material will address what the potential supplier
has been doing in the past, what their corporate policies and
commitments are, and perhaps what their culture is. By showing
how your product/service addresses this information, you'll have
far greater impact.
The moral of the story?
Read the document thoroughly and then read it again. When you're
doing that, grab a highlighter and highlight any points that are
important to address in your document. These points could appear
anywhere within the document. Not just in the product or evaluation
Then, when you've done that ask yourself "why". Why is this important
to them? Then once you've discovered the answer, ask "why" again,
until you cover the real, core need.
About the Author
Kris Mills of Words that Sell, is an experienced copywriter who has
produced dozens of winning tenders and proposals for a wide range of
clients. For more ideas on preparing winning tenders and proposals,