No one starts of as an expert bid writer. The requirements for tenders can vary significantly, and it can take a lot of trial and error to identify what your business should include with your bids – so it is no wonder that many of you find this challenging. In a recent survey we asked a sample of suppliers what their biggest challenges were, and 18% of respondents told us that their lack of experience and bid writing ability was holding them back.
The 4 main challenges inexperienced suppliers faced in 2021
Understanding terminology and requirements used within notices
If you are not sure what the buyer is looking for, we have a couple of useful documents that can help. The first is our Tendering Terminology document – it has all the terms you are likely to encounter and what they mean. The other is our post titled ‘What is a public tender?’ – here you will find details of the different types of tenders, and what is included in each.
If after doing some research you are still unsure, please remember you will be able to ask buyers questions during the clarification period. During this time, you can post anonymous questions and the buyer will provide a public response which will be made available to all other suppliers. There is no shame in asking questions, getting answers sooner rather than later ensures you spend your time developing an appropriate response. More often than not, questions raised point to insufficient detail being provided, rather than a lack of experience on your part.
Responding to Social Value questions
Social Value is playing a more significant role in public procurement, and that means suppliers like you need to be able to identify what social, economic and environmental considerations you are making. This could be internal processes you have in place to benefit local communities, or it could be environmental benefits that will result from awarding work to you.
Reflect on all possible outcomes from doing business with your company, and then create a list of highlights to include in relevant questions – you can also identify areas that need improvement. If you are not sure where to start, we have a training course designed to teach you how to score more points for these types of questions. View our Training Course Page for more information and availability.
If you are struggling to win work, you could benefit from conducting a simple analysis of your bidding strategy and working to identify what might be going wrong. In our posts ‘What criteria do buyers use to evaluate bids?’ and ‘What are my chances of winning a tender?’, we look at what buyers measure and provide you with reflective questions to identify what needs your attention.
If you have already tried similar exercises, the Tenders Direct Training and Consultancy team are currently offering a complimentary Tender Readiness Check. Simply complete this contact form, and we’ll be in touch to see what support you might need.
Not knowing where to start
Getting started is the trickiest part, but if you put in good groundwork, you can set yourself up for success. Your goal should be to first explore bidding for lower value contracts, as they have fewer restrictions and are easier to bid for than high-value notices – which often require 2-3 years of audited accounts. While there are fewer restrictions, you could be required to have a few months’ worth of bank statements, demonstrate your company’s ability to fulfil similar contracts or have certain policies in place.
If any of these restrictions are creating a temporary barrier, you could in the meantime look at award notices and framework announcements, using them to prospect for work with the contract winners. This is a great strategy to boost your familiarity with tender requirements and gain indirect experience of working with the public sector.
If you are not facing any barriers to entry, the advice we would give to get started is familiarise yourself with the market and plan your responses. You can start by looking at local tenders or notices from other regions and familiarising yourself with expectations and even attempt doing a practice bid to see what issues you encounter.
Whether you do a practice bid or dive straight in to bidding for actual work, planning is essential. You must be aware of what to expect and manage your time appropriately. We will not go into detail here about planning, and will instead refer you to The 9 Step Tender Writing process – which details everything you should consider before writing your bid.
How can Tenders Direct help you?
You will learn a lot through trial and error, but this can be a lengthy process and has the risk of costing you opportunities your business deserved to win. If you would instead prefer direct support from our experts, we can teach you everything you need to know about effectively bidding for contracts.
Online bid writing training courses
Our trainers have over 10 years experience in public sector procurement and will impart their knowledge through a range of practical exercises, group work and downloadable resources.
We can help you by reviewing your bids and highlighting where you could make improvements. We could also help you formulate a bid strategy that will make your proposal stand out from the crowd.
Tenders Direct is the UK’s most accurate tender alert service. We are the only service to guarantee that with us – you’ll never miss a tender.
For more information about how we can help you find and win more work in the public sector, please visit www.tendersdirect.co.uk or call us on 0800 222 9009.