In the world of business, a tender response can be a golden ticket to land a major contract. However, writing a tender response can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to the process. It's essential to ask the right questions before you begin to ensure that your response is well-informed and competitive. In this article, we will explore the essential questions you should ask before writing a tender response.
Is it important to ask tender questions before responding?
Before responding to a tender notice, asking essential questions is akin to building strong foundations for a resilient structure. These questions not only help understand the buyer’s needs but also guide your response to focus on vital aspects and assess if the tender aligns with your business goals, ensuring wise investment of time and resources.
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The Set-Up: Before You Ask
The first step in the set-up is thorough research. Understand the industry, market, and buyer you are dealing with. Research the buyer's past projects, their preferences, and their previous contractors. This will give you an insight into what the client is looking for and how you can align your business offerings to meet their needs. In preparation for this, consider creating a public sector sales and marketing strategy.
Secondly, understand the tendering process. Every organisation has a unique tendering process. Familiarise yourself with the client's tendering process, including the deadline for submission, the decision-making process, and the criteria for evaluation. For more information on this, check out our Ultimate Guide to Selling to the Public Sector.
Lastly, take a look at your competition. Knowing who you are up against will help you to differentiate your business and make your tender response stand out. Conduct market research and speak to a tender professional to help find your feet within the public sector.
The Right Questions to Ask When Tendering
Aim to ask questions that eliminate any assumptions from the bid writing process. This allows you to concentrate on the requirements and provide the buyer exactly what they are seeking.
Once you've set the groundwork, it's time to ask the right questions. Here are 15 key questions that you should consider asking before writing a tender response:
What are the main objectives of the project?
What is the expected outcome of the project?
What are the key deliverables?
What is the expected timeline for the project?
What are the critical success factors for the project?
What are the key risks and how are they being managed?
What is the budget for the project?
Who are the key stakeholders involved in the project?
What are the evaluation criteria for the tender?
Are there any mandatory requirements for the tender?
What are the preferred qualifications and experience for the successful tenderer?
Are there any specific reporting requirements?
What is the payment schedule for the project?
Are there any penalties for non-compliance or non-performance?
Are there any opportunities for contract extension or renewal?
Using these questions within the bid-no-bid process
The bid-no-bid process is a crucial stage in the tendering journey. It is at this juncture that you need to critically evaluate your company's capabilities, resources, and the potential benefits of the tender. This is where these essential questions come into play.
Do you have 3 strong case studies from the industry you want to work in? - This is crucial as most tenders require sector-specific experience.
Do you have a solid foundation of experience, similar to those in the Invitation to Tender? - Your past works should be relevant to the business project.
Is the tender more than half of your annual turnover? - It's unlikely for an SME to win projects that exceed 50% of their turnover.
Do you meet the terms of the tender, i.e., three years required accounts? - If not, you might want to reconsider bidding.
How strong is your team's experience against what they're asking for? - A strong management team with a proven track record can increase your chances of winning.
Can you meet the deadlines required for the project? - Consider the size of your team and the man-hours needed to complete the work.
Is it possible to make a profit, based on the budget allocated? - Evaluate the man-hours needed for the project and the profit margins.
Does the contract fit within our risk profile?- Assess the inherent risks associated with the contract, ensuring alignment with your organisation's risk tolerance and mitigation capabilities.
Can we meet the contract's quality and safety standards?- Evaluate your organisation's capabilities to adhere to the quality and safety standards outlined in the contract, ensuring a commitment to excellence in project delivery.
Do we have positive relationships with the client or stakeholders?- Consider the existing rapport with the buyer and stakeholders, as positive relationships can contribute significantly to the success of the project and the likelihood of securing the contract.
Are we able to meet the contract's legal and regulatory requirements?- Scrutinise the legal and regulatory aspects of the contract, ensuring that your organisation is equipped to meet all obligations within the specified framework.
Can we provide a unique solution or approach?- Explore your organisation's innovative capacity and expertise, assessing if you can offer a distinctive solution or approach that sets you apart from competitors and aligns with the project's requirements.
Can we meet the sustainability and social responsibility criteria?- Evaluate your organisation's commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, ensuring alignment with the criteria outlined in the contract to meet growing expectations for ethical business practices.
Is the potential contract worth the time and resources we would need to invest in the tender?- Conduct a cost-benefit analysis, weighing the potential contract's value against the time and resources required for the tender process, ensuring a judicious allocation of resources for optimal returns.
Once you've submitted your tender response, it's time to wait for the buyer’s decision. This can be a nerve-wracking time, but remember, every tender is a learning opportunity. Whether you win or lose, every tender response you write will strengthen your tendering skills and increase your chances of success in the future.
In conclusion, asking the right questions before writing a tender response can significantly increase your chances of success. These questions will help you to understand the client's needs, differentiate your business, and craft a compelling proposal. So, before you start writing your next tender response, remember to ask these 15 essential questions.
How Thornton and Lowe can help you during the bid-no-bid process
Thornton and Lowe are experts in the field of tendering and procurement. We understand that the bid-no-bid process can be a daunting task, especially for companies new to the tendering landscape.
Our team of experienced tender consultants can provide the necessary guidance and support during this critical stage. We assist in analysing the tender documents, identifying the key requirements, and evaluating your company's ability to deliver.
Thornton and Lowe also offer bid management services, which encompass the entire tendering process - from the bid-no-bid decision through to the tender submission. We ensure that your tender response is well-structured, compelling, and addresses all the client's requirements. You can also find our Ultimate Guide to Bid Consultancy Services here.
Contact our team today and see how we can help you to ask and answer these essential questions.