How to Win a Tender – the Procurement Process Explained

Fact checked by Eddie Regan, BiP Solutions Principal Procurement Consultant

If you want to know how to win a tender, you first have to understand the procurement process and what goes into creating a strong tender submission. Only then can your business put its best foot forward throughout the various procurement steps.

The procurement process can be lengthy and complex depending on the value of the contract and the requirements of the contracting authority. If you are reading this guide, we assume you already have experience in the procurement marketplace and are looking to gain a further understanding of how to win tenders in the public sector.

Read this beginner’s guide to tendering for public sector contracts if you want to learn how to win a tender without experience.

Tracker helps organisations in the UK and globally win tenders in a range of sectors through the implementation of business intelligence tools that organisations can use to their advantage throughout the tendering process.

This article offers advice on how to streamline the tendering process and set your business up for success when it comes to winning public tenders.

1. Find the Contract that is Right for Your Business

With thousands of public sector contracts and private sector contracts published every day on tender portals and government websites, it can be an extremely time-consuming process just finding a contract your organisation may be interested in.

Your decision making here can be influenced by a number of factors, such as the value of the contracts (e.g. Find a Tender thresholds) or by your company’s future goals. Either way, choosing appropriate and relevant tenders plays a vital role in positioning your business better for the tender stages that follow.

Finding Relevant Tender Opportunities is Easier with Tracker

Tracker’s Tender Alerts service helps you start the tender process by sending you tenders that are relevant to your business, straight to your inbox, every day.

These daily alerts save your organisation valuable time and resources, maximising productivity. Simply open your emails and you will have all the contract notice information, including the project start date, requirements, and where you can access the full tender documentation & tender instructions, there and ready to go.

This gives you the edge by ensuring you are the first to know when new contract notices are published, thus improving your chances of winning tenders.

2. Get the Tender Documentation

The Contract Notice will specify where you can access the tender documentation.

Before you apply for a tender, you will need to read the full tender documentation, or tender specification, from the buyer. It will state the specific requirements, scope of the contract (for example, if they are placing an emphasis on environmental factors), and which tendering procedure is to be used. The tendering procedure will then determine how you as a potential supplier should structure your tender bid.

There are various tender procedures, including Open and Restricted. If it is a restricted tender, you will have to complete Selection Questionnaires (which replaced the Pre-Qualification Questionnaires) to assess the suitability and capability of your company. These questionnaire responses will be used in the selection process to create a shortlist of companies that will be invited to submit a complete tender (an invitation to tender). Open tenders may still require completion of such questionnaires, but you will submit them alongside a full tender bid.

It is crucial that you read through the tender documents thoroughly and more than once to ensure you understand the project that is involved. Pay attention to the evaluation criteria and weightings that will be used to score responses as these indicate the buyer’s priorities.

Effective Bid Management with Tracker

Tracker’s Bid Manager tool will help you to view and review the tender and bid documents efficiently as it centralises all documents related to your tender application into one place which you can access any time from anywhere.

This tool serves to help you with all your tender tracking so you are on top of each of your tender submissions, as well as the results thereof.

3. Engage Early with the Buyer and Ask Questions

Early engagement between buyers and suppliers is crucial to enabling a proactive approach to tendering and improving your chances of a successful tender.

In every tendering process, you will be given the opportunity to submit questions about the tender documents before submitting your bid. Your questions and answers will be available for everyone to see (but published anonymously) to encourage a tendering process that is fair and equal for all parties involved.

This stage of the procurement process is hugely helpful for clarifying details in the documents and the tender procedure in use, as well as ensuring that all the information is correct and phrased well.

Making the most of this stage is vital because your active contribution may help you win the tender.

Equip your Business for Early Engagement with Tracker

Tracker specialises in early engagement strategies to increase your chances of tender success. By providing named contacts on thousands of public and private sector contracts, Tracker encourages direct communication between potential suppliers and the contracting authority outside the question and answers stage of the tendering process.

Business intelligence tools for tendering such as Market Intelligence, Market Leads, and Award Data enable you to track upcoming opportunities and engage with buyers before they publish a contract opportunity. This allows you to build a relationship and even perhaps educate buyers about innovative solutions like yours.

Early engagement is set to grow in importance as it is a key part of the latest procurement reforms.

4. Prepare Your Tender Response

Writing a tender response is a skill. A good tender submission takes time, practice, and perseverance — and doing it well can be your key to winning tender opportunities within a marketplace where prompt payment is guaranteed.

Before You Start Writing

Before you start the bid writing process, make sure you have allowed yourself enough time to research the buyer. The more you know about the client and their requirements, the better your tender proposals will be.

Contracting authorities want the best possible outcome for their tenders, so it is in their best interests to help every supplier submit the most accurate and well-informed bids. This includes a requirement for suppliers to submit accurate quotations, among other details.

It is worth noting that contracting authorities may have worked with some of the same suppliers for a long time, but these are not necessarily the suppliers that offer the best quality goods, works, or services, or the best value for money.

Tender Response Tips

Structure your response to show the benefits you can give the buyer by solving their problems and where you can add value. An example of this could be by including maintenance or support within the product package.

As a supplier, focus your efforts on showing that you have the skills and experience to fulfil the buyer’s requirements through evidence. But above all, ensure you meet all of the buyer’s requirements — without that, your bid will instantly be rejected, before it can even get to the tender evaluation process.

Writing Winning Responses with Tracker

Tracker’s Spend Analysis and Archive Data business intelligence tools will be especially helpful at this stage in the procurement and bid process, as it will help you to analyse your competitors and gain a deeper understanding of the marketplace. This will give you a better understanding of what the buyer is looking for from bidders and help you tailor your response around this.

5. Submit Your Tender Response

After you have written your tender response and it has been proofread by multiple people, you must ensure it is submitted before the deadline.

If you submit it late, even by a few minutes, your tender will automatically be disqualified and all of your efforts will be wasted, even if you are one of the most suitable suppliers. Needless to say, compliance with these basic rules and regulations is key.

If you submit before the deadline, you’ll enter a waiting game as part of the bid review tender stage until the contracting authority finally awards the contract.

6. After You’ve Submitted the Tender Response – What Happens Next?

Congratulations on submitting your bid! You have officially completed the tender bidding process. Now your bid will be scored and evaluated.

In some cases, you will receive an invitation from the contracting authority for an interview or site visit to get a clearer idea of how you will deliver the project requirements should you win the tender.

After this process, you will be faced with one of two outcomes, known as an ‘award decision notice’ in the tender award process:

Outcome 1: You Weren’t Successful

This happens, unfortunately, but it’s part of getting better at the bidding process.

There can be a number of reasons why you weren’t successful. In order to understand why and learn from your mistakes for future bids, always ask the contracting authority for a debrief. You are entitled to request feedback on your performance throughout the procurement process, and it is essential that you are given this to help you win contracts in the future. If you really want to know how to win tenders in the UK, this step should not be skipped.

If your organisation feels they were treated unfairly during the tender process, you can also challenge the award decision at this point in the tender process.

Outcome 2: You Won the Contract

Congratulations! Winning a tender is a great achievement — and no easy task considering the effort that goes into each of the procurement stages and the overall tender process.

As the successful bidder, you will have further meetings with the contract authority to prepare for the commencement of work on the project.

Remember, even when you succeed, you are entitled to feedback about your performance. No one scores full marks and there are always lessons to learn for next time, so you should ask for performance feedback from the buying authority regardless of your tender win.

Find, Bid for & Win Tenders the Easy Way with Tracker

We’ve answered ‘What is the tendering process?’ and ‘How to win a contract bid’, so all that’s left is for you to put into practice everything you’ve learned about the tendering process in procurement — and we can provide the tools you need to do this.

Sign up to Tracker to increase your chances of success in the procurement process. With our procurement portal, tender tracker tool, and other tendering intelligence tools, you can improve your chances of success throughout each of the tendering process steps.

Request a free personalised live demo or sign up for Tracker to find out more about how Tracker’s business intelligence tools can deepen your understanding of how to win a tender bid and increase your chances of winning business in the procurement market.

Improving your chances of successfully tendering for new business is just a click away. Request your free 3-day Tracker trial today — no credit card required!

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