Can you really bid less but win more?

“Sales is a numbers game”. This saying comes from a time when relationship selling was king, deals were done on a handshake, and the more people you got in front of, the luckier you became.

However, it is harmful advice when it comes to competitive tenders.

Submitting competitive tenders is like feeding coins into a slot machine; your chances of winning don’t get any better as your supply of coins goes down.

In fact, the opposite is true.

The more tenders you invest time and effort in, but don’t win, the more discouraged you're likely to get. Buyers don’t give you good feedback – or any feedback. All you’re really doing is depleting your most important currency, the energy, enthusiasm and engagement of your team, for absolutely zero return.

People will try to tell you you’re not winning because you “didn’t write the tender”, meaning the buyer didn’t go to market based on the specifications you gave them. This is baloney too. Buyers are smarter than that; they won’t deliberately favour one vendor. And I've known plenty of people who have won competitive tenders without any prior relationship with the buyer.

Most likely, the problem is that you’re submitting so many tenders that they look like brochures – carbon copies full of cut-and-pasted content. Or, they are simply responses to the tender specification – which is what everyone else is doing too – without any real strategy to win.

Over the years I’ve noticed a marked difference in the way that clear winners approach bids and tender proposals, while others are setting themselves up to lose. It starts with how (and where) we spend our time.


Spend more of your time up front on the thinking work, without jumping straight into the “doing” work, and good things will happen. You’ll get better engagement from your team. You’ll impress buyers. And you’ll win more often. And that’s a win for everyone.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.

Is it time to pimp your proposals? Stop wasting time and money on proposals that go nowhere. The Pimp My Proposals program will give you the feedback, content and structure you need to build compelling proposals that win business. Learn what you’re doing wrong, and how to fix it. Email info@robynhaydon.com or call 03 9557 4585 to find out more.