5 top tips from a tender writer to improve your future bids

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 02/07/2014

Give your tenders a big boost with these top tips from a tender writer.

1. Answer the question

A tender writing colleague of mine used to get so infuriated at the number of people that didn’t answer the question in the tender document, they used to jokingly exclaim, “ATFQ!”

The ‘F’ needs no explanation, nor does my colleague, but the point is this: answer the question! It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people that don’t’ do it.

So, if you’re asked to describe your approach to safety management – describe your approach to safety management, don’t instead write wildly about something you feel is important to mention, but totally unrelated.

It is also best to answer the questions in the order they appear in the request for tender. Many of the top firms will insist on a compliance table at the front of the document to ensure all the relevant points are covered.

2. Respond in plain English

The core concepts of plain English include: focusing your text with a clear core message; choosing short, simple words and sentences to boost readability; and writing in the active voice for clarity and precision. The idea is to remove the long-winded waffle and replace it with clear, easy-to-read information. Your reader will thank you for it.

3. Activate your writing style

Writing in the active voice means constructing sentences where the subject performs the action of the verb. It is used when you want your writing to be clear, direct and easy to read.

This means the subject is doing the action (active) and not having something being done to it (passive). A simple example would be:

Passive: “The road was built by XYZ Construction.”

Active: “XYZ Construction built the road.”

The active voice works best in tenders, proposals and marketing communications where the communication works best if it direct and to the point, so the reader is engaged and less likely to switch off half way through.

4. Prove your claims with great examples

Any company can say, “We are the best at…” or, “We are a world- class organisation…” but how many can prove it?

If you are going to say you have an outstanding safety record, prove this with a case study or some form of evidence. You can also use testimonials, quotes from the media and award wins to back up what you say.

Your examples should always be outcome focused and relevant to the client you are trying to win over. The client does not need the complete job history of a project or company either. Use case studies and any other evidence to show proof of how you saved a client time or money or innovated to resolve an ongoing problem.

5. Edit, proofread and make your documents error-free

While even the best-written documents can’t win you the tender on their own, those with mistakes and typos will certainly reduce your chances. The best tender teams leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading.

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