How to write a tender proposal

If you haven’t written a successful tender before you might find the process can be quite daunting. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

1.   Read the document thoroughly

This might seem like a very obvious thing to say but it is very important. You must read all the documents to make sure you understand what is required. The most important things to understand are: the specifications so that you know exactly what is being asked for; the contractual obligations and how you will be required to deliver the product or service; when and how the response to the tender is to be delivered; and finally how you tender proposal will be measured, that is, the mandatory or essential criteria.

2. Have a plan to project manage the process

Once you have an understanding of the document you should write a list of all the major requirements of the document and assign the jobs to people. Also make sure that you put deadlines on all the tasks so that important things are done first and that you give yourself enough time to complete the larger or more complex tasks.

3. Use the templates or formats provided

Tender specification documents often include a template that you are requested to fill in. The template is usually divided into sections and may have word or page limits. Sections may even be required to be submitted in different formats, for example, the pricing may be asked for in Excel format and the rest of the document as a PDF.

Follow the requirements to make it easy for the tender assessment panel to consider your bid. Only experienced tender writers should use a different document style to the one provided.

4. Focus on clarity

When you are trying to convince someone to take action you must make the reasons clear and easy to follow. In a tender response you are asking a client to choose your proposal over others. Therefore keep your document clear, logical and well organised.

It is always a good idea to include a clear and persuasive executive summary that states your unique selling proposition, that is, why you are better than all of your competitors. If you can’t think of reasons why you are better than your competitors you can’t expect to win. Describe the benefits the buyer will receive from your products or services.

5. The importance of good writing

A tender proposal showcases your business. It aims to create the impression that your business is professional, business-like and sets high standards. Therefore the quality of your writing needs to be high. Spelling mistakes and poor grammar are not uncommon but if your document is full of them it risks creating an impression that you are careless, disorganised and even disrespectful. Make sure your document is edited properly and make time for a different person to proof-read it before it is submitted.

6. The importance of presentation

We know of businesses that have had their proposals rejected because they were so poorly presented that the client refused to accept them. Just as good writing is important so is good presentation—you must aim to create the impression that your business is professional, business-like and sets high standards.

You need to make sure that you use a standard set of templates for all sections of the document and that the document follows a similar style throughout. Resumés and case studies are opportunities to showcase your staff and your work so should be attractive.

7. Provide all the information required

Request for tenders (RFTs) always require you to provide a whole raft of information. However relevant you might think it is you need to provide everything that is asked for. However, don’t despair if you can’t provide everything precisely as is asked for. Never leave a blank or ignore the requirement, instead, provide something similar and explain why you are using it.

8. Address the selection criteria

Understand the mandatory and desired selection criteria in the tender request. Make sure your offer very precisely answers the buyer’s specifications. It is important to provide strong evidence that you meet the selection criteria rather than simply asserting that you do.

It is necessary to provide verifiable evidence that you have delivered comparable goods or services.

9. Choose the right referees

Most RFTs ask for referees either for the delivery of the work or for the personnel put forward. Use referees that you know will give the most complimentary recommendations. Don’t take a risk on clients who have gripes. Get permission from your referees before including them in your response. Brief them on the details of the RFT so they can tailor their comments to the particular request.

10. Submit your tender on time

Late or incomplete tender responses are nearly always rejected. This is particularly true when submitting the document electronically so make sure you give yourself enough time to get the document completed and uploaded.

Madrigal Communications is an Australian communication consultancy that helps professional organisations improve their profits and presentation by creating convincing and engaging content. Contact us for more information.