How to focus your time to win tenders and proposals

When developing bids, proposals and tender responses, most people spend almost all of their time on the “grunt work” of responding and finishing. In contrast, clear winners spend 60 per cent of their time on the “brain work” of selling and convincing. Here are some tips for focusing your energy and effort where they are most needed – on what will help you win.

As soon as a Request for Tender is released, you will only have a short period of time - most commonly, four weeks - to put your entire submission together.

Due to the size of the job, most people jump straight into writing, but this is a mistake.

There are four steps in the successful development of a bid, proposal or tender response:

  1. Selling – developing your strategy and Purchaser Value Topics
  2. Convincing – planning content and evidence to support them
  3. Responding - writing to the questions/requirements, and
  4. Finishing - pre-submission polishing and review.

Most people who write tender bids spends 95% of their time on Responding and Finishing, with only 5% on “Selling” – and this mostly involves kicking around the reasons “why they should choose us”. That’s hardly compelling, given that almost everyone else is going to do the same.

In contrast, clear winners spend 60% of their time up-front on Selling and Convincing, and only 40% on Responding and Finishing.

A tender document sets out what the buyer is looking for. In their heads, they’ve already bought that, and are really hoping for something better.

So your job is to give them something MUCH better than what they were expecting. By working first on Selling and Convincing, it is possible to shift perceptions so that you are the only ones in contention.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.