The award of public contracts may be more about costing and capability than your talent for delivering an inspiring pitch, but your sales message matters and can give you an edge – not least when you’re in a crowded competition. So how can you properly apply sales tactics in tendering?
Adapting to the well-defined and stringent scoring criteria of public sector tendering can be tricky if you’ve become used to making sales by targeting the heart as much as the head. The key is finding the right balance between polished pitch and technical prowess and finding ways to weave a compelling message into your responses.
Tell your story
Like any other business deal, you’re selling your wares to a customer so it would be surprising if you didn’t apply some smooth techniques. Your priority should always be to answer the buyer’s questions directly, clearly, and concisely, but try to embed a narrative in your responses.
An overall theme to focus on is your company’s story. What was your origin? Where are you now? What’s your future direction? Buyers aren’t judging you on current capabilities alone, but also on your past record and your ambitions for the future. You can illustrate your suitability by providing evidence of past service provision, current capability, and future plans with a range of visual tools such as case studies, certifications, awards, flow charts and so on.
Where you’re going is particularly relevant, as many contract lifecycles can be up to half a decade and beyond. Will your solutions have changed a few years down the line? Will you have implemented new technology, processes, or supply chain improvements that can provide additional cost savings and added value? If you emphasise your commitment to continuous improvement and the pursuit of efficiency, you’ll be more attractive to public sector buyers facing long term budgetary pressures.
Close the sale
Assuming you’ve formulated a competitive costing proposal and covered the other key elements of the scoring criteria as best you can, a tight competition can come down to a judgement on the part of the evaluators regarding the overall quality of your bid.
When you’re chasing a deal face-to-face or on the phone, closing the sale can come down to an emotional reaction, a turn of phrase, a personal connection, a snap decision. Leads usually become customers not because you’ve feature-bashed your offering, but because you’ve persuaded them that you’re different or proven that you’re the best.
Evaluators are often forced to choose between two or more technically similar bids. You may have demonstrated your willingness and ability to take on the contract in your responses, but have you differentiated yourself from the crowd? Just as you want your story to come across in your bid, your responses should, where possible, convey the unique benefits of working with you relative to the competition. If it comes down to the wire you won’t be in the room to make a last ditch pitch, but if you’ve already told an inspirational tale your bid will do the talking for you.
Reached a plateau in your bid writing and interested in developing your ability? You may be interested in our Advanced Bid Writing Skills training course.
As always, feel free to leave a comment below or call 0800 222 9009 with any questions.