How SME’s Can Win More Tenders with Tips from Our Industry Experts

As a business, you’re continually looking for opportunities to grow and achieve organisational success in the market that you operate in. Often growing to the next stage of success requires winning one or more larger tenders. Unfortunately, many companies have difficulty getting the results they want.

Recently, we spoke with two industry professionals who shared their top tips for landing more tenders.

  • Andrew Zacks, from Tenders A-Z, is an expert tender consultant with more than ten years’ experience.
  • Heather Bienefelt, Director of Integrated Compliance Solutions, has worked with numerous businesses during her time in the sector, providing them with expert guidance and, ultimately, helping them secure more tenders.

We’ve compiled their insider tips into an informative article to help smaller, younger businesses beat the odds against larger competition.

Summary tips:

It is surprisingly simple to improve your chances of winning a tender- it’s often a case of you don’t know what you don’t know. By being prepared, avoiding common mistakes and getting your systems in order, you can ensure you have the best chance. In addition to this, in the case that you secure a tender, you can make sure you have the resources and systems required to manage projects.

 1. Top Tip: be Prepared 

If you won a tender tomorrow, would you be prepared?

Before applying for tenders, you need to be confident that your business is in the position to complete such projects in their specified timeframe. In many instances, companies leave a significant portion of their preparation until the last minute and, because of this, simply aren’t ready to take on a tender.

During his experience in the industry, this is something Andrew has seen many organisations fall into the trap of doing. When asked how he decides if someone shouldn’t go ahead with a tender, Andrew said the following.

Andrew:- “Be prepared is probably the best advice because I think what a lot of people tend to do is just leave it to the last minute and um and ah about are we going to bid on this tender and can we afford it and all that sort of stuff.

A lot of the time they’re not ready. It might be their first tender, they haven’t got the management systems in place, they might not even have the people to deliver the job if they win it, and that’s not a good situation for them to be in because there could be penalties, so it might actually be worse for them to win the tender than to be unsuccessful.

If you’re going to tender, you can develop a library, get your compliance in place and you can contact your referees and do everything you need to do in advance and that way you’re ready to go. You’re ready if you actually get the contract.

There’s no point putting in for a tender that you’re not ready for.”

 2. Don’t do Generic- Instead Have a Library

It’s tempting (as with ISO systems) to believe that you can save time by having generic tender documents. 

Heather:- Is it possible to pre-prepare tender documents to save time?

Andrew:- “I think the short answer is you can take the pain out of doing a tender by preparing all the supporting documentation in advance; so all the management plans, all that sort of thing, and developing a library content. But to say that you are going to prepare a generic tender template, it will never work because it won’t be compliant- and that is then a wasted opportunity. That’s a big thing to educate people about”

Heather:-“So what sort of things would you recommend people have in their library?”

Andrew:- “Okay, so, insurance certificates. They’re easy. You just refer to them as an attachment. Company background, if that comes into it. Things like org charts. I would say biographies for key personnel. And case studies for demonstrated experience. And increasingly having your compliance in order or in progress is important.”

3. Answer Every Question

It’s not uncommon for people to see similar questions and just refer to something that’s already been said. While this might seem efficient or like common sense, Andrew says it’s a big mistake.

Andrew:- “You need to Address every question. Answer the question, without repeating (like you would in an exam paper). Don’t refer the evaluators to different sections of the response. Even when sometimes they do repeat the same question, just try to bring their attention to the fact that there is information in another area of the tender. But not just saying refer to this, refer to that, that sort of thing. Answer the question directly.”

4. The Role of ISO Compliance in Tender Success 

Ensuring your business is compliant not only with legislation but also certification standards is becoming increasingly important when it comes to securing tenders- particularly with government and large corporates.

In many cases, organisations won’t be invited to tender unless they’ve achieved or are on the journey to achieving ISO certification. Those who don’t meet the requirements will typically have fewer opportunities to tender and risk falling short to compliant applicants.

During the interview, Andrew explained that this is becoming particularly prominent in local government work.

Andrew:- “Sometimes they won’t even look at you if you’re not on the road towards certification or at least ISO, and that just knocks out the providers that don’t meet the requirements.”

Regardless of your business’ size, if you don’t gain compliance with the relevant standards, this may impact your ability to successfully secure tenders.

Andrew:- “It’s not about excluding the smaller players, it’s about compliance. You can be a sole trader and be working towards ISO Certification, if you can afford it. It just shows that you’re committed to complying with the systems of the client.”

Certification also provides businesses with reputable, credible evidence of their compliance with legislative requirements.

Heather:- “Governments know that by having Environment and OH&S certification you’re also taking a stab at meeting legal regulatory requirements, which are, after all, mandatory for all businesses in Australia.”

ISO certification can demonstrate to potential customers that your business has a strong commitment to meeting legal obligations, as well as having reliable processes and systems organisation-wide, making you more attractive as a long-term prospect.

5. Get Better Results by Seeking Out Expert Advice on Tender Strategy

If you’re missing out on tenders or not sure how to begin, you will almost certainly get much better results by speaking with an experienced tender professional before your next tender. In this way, you can ensure you’re adequately prepared. If you don’t fully understand what you’re doing, you may be completely disadvantaging your business.

Andrew explained:- “People think they can do it 100% themselves and it’s like me trying to do my own tax return or build my own house. I’m not qualified, so I leave it to the people who know what they’re doing. That’s the key. People try to do it themselves and… it just doesn’t work. There is definitely a point beyond which you shouldn’t keep just trying the same old thing again and again.”

6. Consider the Benefits of Outsourcing the Whole Process

Preparing to apply for a tender takes time and, even once you’re ready to start registering, writing and submitting applications, such process can be incredibly time-consuming.

As someone with extensive experience in the industry, Andrew will generally spend 20 to 40 hours writing a typical local council tender. However, an individual without the same specialist background would be expected to complete such document in 80 to 120 hours, assuming they have a rough idea of what they’re doing.

Heather:- “That’s an enormous amount of time if you put a dollar figure next to that person’s hours.”

Andrew:- “Absolutely… and that’s hours that you could’ve been spending running your business.”

It’s important to consider whether the ROI of more successful tenders and time saved would more than make up for the investment in a tender consultant.

7. How One of Our Clients Tripled their Business

Heather has found that, for many clients, receiving guidance from a tender consultant can be the turning point in winning more tenders and going to the next level of growth in their business.

Heather:- “I spoke to one of our clients who had done 26 tenders over a period of two years and not won any of them, and then we organised for them to speak to one of our tender experts. They won the next tender for a multi-million dollar project, and then on the back of that one tender got another one with the same provider, and another one, and they have now tripled their business.”

Start Winning More Tenders Today

If you’re interested in winning more tenders, consider whether a shortcut could be to outsource part or all of the process. With professional assistance, you can quickly become tender ready- saving your business time, money and resources on future tenders and dramatically increase your success rate in the future. For more information, get in touch with our team.

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