I always find people's views on the subject of Tendering interesting! (Yes, I am that sad!) There are the doom-sayers that preach guaranteed disappointment, gently shaking their heads and looking serious as they convey tales of how much time they have wasted in an effort to persuade you that it doesn't work. Conversely, there are inexperienced 'have a go' types that are thrilled by the prospect, and cant wait to immerse themselves knee-deep in opportunities. There are also those that have tendered and had gains from it. These folk are often less heard in their opinions. They are the ones that I enjoy talking to most as they have experience in the field and a mixed bag of opinions. They will have benefited from the exercise and will be more open minded to the bidding process.
If you want to see a wry smile from a Company Director, ask them this.. 'Is Tendering an Art or a Science?' and wait... The broader the smile the more interesting their experience will be! So what advice can we offer those with a new found interest in tendering?
Be a Boy Scout - Be Prepared
Don't go into tendering blindly. Find out about what sorts of tenders are out there, then work out what you need to do to gear up to service them, if you win. After all, if you can't support growth when you win, there's no point in bidding.
Know what you want. There's no point being the 'kid in a sweet shop' and blinded by every opportunity. Know your strengths, what areas you work well in, and target those. Steer clear of your weaker areas and don't 'roll the dice' on an area of service you don't have confidence in.
Form a Bidding Team
Prior to your first real search for tender opportunities, know who is going to be part of your bidding team. People see things from different angles and someone else will spot areas that you have missed! This is almost guaranteed!
Create a Bid Library
Gather everything you need to tender, such as last 3 years of accounts, insurance documents, references, trophy contracts, key staff, brief staff CVs, policies, the works. Keep them on an easy to get to network location for easy reference. You'd be amazed how much time (and anguish) this saves!
Search with a Bit of Savvy
Be aware of what your research told you. Don't be too tempted to bite of much more than you can chew. That contract in the Outer Hebrides might just be a step too far, especially if you have to attend monthly update meetings. When you find the opportunity that suits, forward it to your bidding team to see if they agree. If it does, apply - early!
Safe Place Alert!
Next, save the tender is a safe place. When you come back to it, you'll want to find it! Don't underestimate how many bidders 'lose' documents, which are saved in forgotten locations.
Read Everything, Again, and Again
You'll be shocked by how your mind will read what it wants and how it will misinterpret. You'll also be shocked at how you can glance tender questions by putting what you want them to hear rather than what they want to know. this is why being critical and reading again and again will be your friend. Never be afraid to query the client if you're not sure of what they mean.
Collate and Submit Early
Oh, if I could give you one key reason why companies lose tenders its because bidders spend too much time rushing at the last minute. In my extensive experience, I've not yet heard a bidder say 'I'm glad I rushed that tender last minute'.
Celebrate the Submission
Ok, so you've decided to launch yourself into the dizzy world of tendering.... What now? Celebrate! Reward yourself for that hard work, and at the very least you can enjoy a nice cuppa!
... oh, and good luck!!
If you need any more help or advice, please feel free to email, me at Robert@HarrisAssociates.Biz or by ringing 0800 25 45 000.