You’ve found a great opportunity for your business. You’ve got a product or service that can really deliver what the buyer needs. Everything is falling into place. But you still need to write a tender response before you win the contract.
The only problem is that you don’t know how to respond to a tender.
Putting together a tender proposal is tricky, and the truth is that there’s no tried and tested template to follow each time you bid for a contract. Every tender is different, so your tender response should be different too.
While there is no perfect template, there are some relevant tips for tender writing you can use to ensure your tender responses show off what you can do and make the buying authority really take notice.
What is a Tender Response?
To win work with the public sector, your organisation must bid for work. You can do this by submitting a tender response to contracts that are relevant to your business. But before you know how to write a response, it is important to first understand how the tender process works. This will help you craft a tender response that stands out.
The public procurement process requires that a contract notice be published as an invitation for competing offers from suppliers for the work they require. These calls for bids take different structured forms depending on the value of the contract and the type of contract. The tender document will outline everything the buyer requires, along with the submission deadline, evaluation criteria, and other details about the project.
Responding to tenders is also known as submitting a bid, and in order to win work, your organisation must bid for the work against other suppliers. You do this by submitting a tender response for contract opportunities that are relevant to your business.
Your tender response should highlight what you offer and how your business meets the selection criteria, so ensuring your response document follows the rules of bid writing is crucial if you want your tender document to be considered.
But what does a tender response look like?
Tender Response Template
Looking for a tender response example?
Every tender has different requirements so there is no standard “tender response example”. However, contracting authorities often create templates (i.e. tender response document/s) themselves. Where there is no template provided or a supplier is simply writing a proposal (this occurs in rare situations where there is no competition), the information provided within this guide should be helpful.
How to Write a Tender Response
The tender writing process is important, and since there are no templates for tenders, we offer our advice below so that you can avoid common mistakes and learn the best practice for responding to tenders so you don’t have to enlist the services of bid writers.
With these tender writing support tips from Tracker, we’ll ensure your tender reply stands out and show you how to write a tender response that really wins.
1. Sell the Benefit
The first thing you’ll want to do when writing your tender response is describe your product or service. You’ll list the key points and describe what it does, how much it costs, how long the project will take for you to complete and how your solution meets the buyer’s needs as set out in the specification.
This is all crucial stuff when it comes to bid writing, but there’s one thing missing:
While it’s absolutely fundamental to list the features of your product or service when submitting a tender proposal, you still need to sell the benefit of what you’re doing.
How to Identify Noteworthy Benefits?
Do your research. Find out what the contracting authority really needs. Read between the lines of the selection criteria to identify what’s important to them and — most importantly — what they will get from you that they won’t get from anyone else. The winning tender will capture the contracting authority’s attention by standing out from the rest.
A tender response that not only outlines exactly what you can do but also explains exactly how the buyer will benefit from your product, service, experience or expertise will stand head and shoulders above a tender proposal which just lists the facts.
2. Emphasise the Impact
Tied to the idea of selling the benefit of your solution is this:
Focus on the impact your solution will have beyond the scope of the contract.
One area of tender writing which can be forgotten is examining the current market, relevant legislation or the social impact of the solution you’re offering.
In order to carry out the work required by the contract, your firm might need to hire additional staff to help deliver the project on time.
This means you’re creating jobs. It means your solution is having a real social impact on the community. You could be helping apprentices learn new skills or helping to boost local employment.
By describing exactly what additional, positive impact your solution will have on employment, the environment or the community, you stand a much better chance of winning the bid over a competitor who doesn’t think of this in their response.
3. Prove it!
Your company is the best at what you do, right?
It’s not enough to make an assertion; you need to go further. Back up what you’re saying with examples, statistics, awards you’ve won, charts, and supporting documents — anything that proves you can do what you say.
Don’t assume the buyer will simply take your word for it. Even if you’ve worked with this authority before, you cannot assume that they will remember the last time you won a contract with them or how well you performed.
Remind them and back it up every time.
4. Keep it Personal
A response to tender should never be a stock answer. Such answers stand out like a sore thumb and, worse still, look lazy.
There is no example tender response document for a reason — because when it comes to how to reply to a tender invitation, you should always tailor your response to that particular bid. Take the time to read the questions, answer them in full with the particular contracting authority in mind, and then write, rewrite and write your tender response again.
Every tender opportunity is different and so is every buyer. So if you aren’t sure what a particular question means, just ask! The more you know about the bid, the better placed you’ll be to answer the questions in the best possible way and write a good tender response. You are always allowed to ask questions but the answers may be shared with other bidders.
After the Submission Process
If your company hasn’t been successful in its bid, this doesn’t need to be the end of your tendering process. Every supplier has the right to ask the buyer for feedback and this is worth doing as you could learn and improve the chances of future bids being successful.
If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated during the bid process, you can challenge the award decision.
The Cabinet Office will provide you with best practice examples and information on why certain firms were selected over others. Use these resources and information about the successful tender to your advantage next time around.
5. Go Offline
It might sound crazy but bear with us.
Online procurement is becoming more and more popular and for good reason. However, it can also make it really easy to introduce errors in your tender documents. Completing your tender responses online means it’s easy to skip a step, miss out a page, submit the bid before you’ve completed the whole response, and so on. It might sound unlikely, but it happens.
Taking the response offline first adds an extra security step. Complete the form offline then upload it in sequence, thus giving you a chance to double check everything before you submit it.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to get someone who has not been involved in the bid to proofread everything before you submit it. A fresh pair of eyes can spot omissions and errors. After all the hard work you’ve put in, giving a bad impression with a typo or bad grammar could ruin an otherwise winning tender response.
How Do I Win More Tenders?
Your business can win more bids by enabling a proactive approach to tendering long before a tender notice is published.
Early engagement is welcomed when bidding for work with the public sector. There are many benefits associated with proactive business development, including the ability to plan resource needs, anticipate potential challenges, and have time to understand the market.
Other benefits of early engagement include:
- Buyers understand requirements better by speaking directly with subject matter experts and suppliers within the industry
- Clearer requirements make the procurement process more efficient
- You can find out important details before a contract has been published (e.g. when the buyer wants the work to begin, how long the tender may take to complete, how much resources it will require, etc.)
Beyond Writing a Winning Tender
Public sector procurement is a massive topic and we could spend days going through everything you need to know in order to really get your business ready to win contracts.
Thankfully though, Tracker Intelligence makes it easier than that.
Early Engagement, Bid Management & Tendering Intelligence You Can Trust
Tracker supports early engagement. With a wide variety of tendering intelligence modules and a wealth of data at its core, Tracker Intelligence enables early engagement by:
- Providing named contacts for networking across the public and private sector through Market Leads and Commercial Projects
- Providing advanced notifications of upcoming framework renewals and recurring projects through Market Leads
- Enabling users to understand previous requirements through Archive Data, thereby facilitating conversations around future contract requirements
- Identifying buyer spend patterns, including what they are buying and from whom via Spend Analysis
- Providing alert notices and detailed breakdowns of frameworks by lots, suppliers, and awards
Our clients also have access to our bespoke Bid Management Tool, which gives you a safe and secure multi-site and multi-user platform on which to create and manage your bids, integrate offline and online projects, upload supporting documents, and more.
With over 30 years of experience in helping businesses grow, our industry expertise and knowledge are what sets us apart — and we want to share it with you.
To find out more about how Tracker Intelligence can help your business get on the front foot when it comes to public sector procurement, request a free demo with a member of our expert team today.
Whatever your business, Tracker is here to help you level up in the tender response process.
Sign up for a free Tracker trial and start writing & winning bids today!