Dark Arts of Tendering … Do they REALLY Exist?

Ok, most folk glaze over when the subject of tendering comes up at the dinner table. Some even start twitching. Its not something that people readily enjoy and I've only ever met a handful of people that really enjoys it..... and yes, I'm in that small, but happy band!

dark arts of tenderingJust before Christmas, I completed a monster-sized tender just in time to attend a festive meal with a charity I support. After some of the attendees found out what I did, one asked 'so do you think you can make a corner shop sound better than Asda then?'.  Seeing the challenge presented to me (and boy, do I love a challenge!), I spent the next 5 minutes proving the point: (below is a truncated case)

  1. "The business owner is on site most days. You can address a complaint straight to the top of the company. You can discuss purchases with the owner and have a direct influence over brands and box sizes they stock. You know the owner and are less likely to see a change in management. You don't have to park 100m away to shop, etc etc."

The conversation deepened and they didn't realise the effect they could have over tenders, as they submit them as part of their funding. One staff member then referred to the mythical Dark Arts of tendering.

What I've noticed is that tendering is like filling in the passport forms. You only see them occasionally, and when you do they fill you with an unknowing confusion. So, let me give some simple tips to my 'bidding buddies' out there to help you improve your success rate. I'll call them 'My Seven Steps to Tendering Heaven'.

  1. Read, read and read the bid. Get to know it like a friend
  2. Don't be frightened or overawed by the process. Understand what they want. If you are in doubt, ask the client for clarity, just don't panic!
  3. Follow the instructions given. This seems simple but you'll be amazed how few actually do!!
  4. Allow plenty of time! Do NOT burn midnight oil as you think better in the day (note to self)
  5. Make sure you get all your info as early as possible. You do NOT want last minute panics for prices or policies to upload!
  6. Complete and read it again at least 24 hours before the deadline. This still gives you time to make small changes.
  7. Always ask for feedback. this helps you improve future bids.

Now that you've read them, follow them. DONT roll your eyes at how they seem like 'common sense', because if you truly follow them you will improve performance no end!

Oh, and the Dark Arts?  If I let those secrets go, you may receive a visit from some hooded business wraiths searching for the mysteries behind eternal success.  Best leave it for another day then!.... *winks*

Good luck!

Robert is a Director of Harris Associates, and has evaluated tenders from the client side. He is now a company owner helping businesses win tenders. He is available for free advice on 0800 254 5000.

Dark Arts of Tendering

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