The leader’s role in evolving best practice for bids and tenders

Tenders are becoming increasingly competitive and it is not unusual for procurement panels to be reviewing 20 or 30 tenders for one contract. Jason Cooney has ideas for leaders to ensure their team turns out the winning tender.

Leaders across all areas of most industries are often required to lead or provide input into bids and tenders. With sales and marketing managers generally taking an active role, it’s important they keep abreast of best practice in bids and tenders to win more contracts and secure growth.

The use of graphics and infographics have gone from a maybe to a must. Even where you are submitting tenders and bids through Excel, it is important to have effective and compelling graphics in the supporting documentation. 

Graphics are a useful tool to:

• Summarise and convey complex solutions in a simple and easy to understand manner.

• Personalise your bid by including real-life images of your team, equipment and personnel.

• Present your documentation professionally.

InDesign is currently becoming the most widely used software for some proposal development professionals, however, Microsoft Word and Powerpoint will generally still do the trick.

Introducing graphics and infographics does not mean attaching company and other brochures to your bid. It means, developing and tailoring specific graphics for the bid that are tailored to the opportunity. 


Introduction of win-themes

Tenders are becoming increasingly competitive and it is not unusual for procurement panels to be reviewing 20 or 30 tenders for one contract. 

This means procurement personnel and review committees are busier and sometimes bigger. As a result, it’s not uncommon for members of a review panel to split your tender up and review different parts of your tender response separately and individually. 

This is where win-themes really come into play. Win-themes represent your key points of difference and are client and opportunity focused messages you want to convey through the tender.

These need to be touched on and reinforced throughout your bid, not just in their respective sections. For example, safety. Safety shouldn’t only be addressed in the question about safety, but also in the methodology, executive summary, experience and other areas of your bid.

The advantage is when a procurement panel all come back together to discuss your bid, after splitting it up, they will all have read information on the same win-themes and will have received the same key messages with respect to your bid and what value we can deliver. 


Time, effort and a comprehensive response

No reviewer likes to read a whole lot of content that is “airy-fairy”. However, a solid, comprehensive response that is written concisely is a pleasure to review and will ensure you score well in your bid. 

What does this mean? This means organisations need to put the time and effort required to develop a comprehensive response. 

This includes:

• Allocating the appropriate resources internally to develop the bid. 

• Challenging internal stakeholders at ‘draft’ stage to ensure they develop quality responses and provide valuable input. (For example, when requesting input from a subject matter expert, ensuring the input they provide is valuable, well thought out and comprehensive). 

• Brainstorming the more complex questions to broadly define them and provide a comprehensive response.

• Promoting the use of evidence (testimonials etc) to add credibility to your bid.

It is the role of leaders not only to put time and effort into the bid, but to ensure all stakeholders involved in the bid preparation and submission process are putting in the appropriate time and effort. 

After all, there is no real point in tendering, unless you are tendering to win. 

JASON COONEY is the founder of Tsaks Consulting,, a specialist bid and tender writing consultancy with offices in Auckland, London, Sydney and Athens.

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