Most common tendering mistakes and how to avoid them

Posted by Oliver Hogue on 04/02/2016

Tenders involve a finely tuned combination of skill, experience and industry knowledge, with multiple factors contributing to a winning bid.

If tender writing isn’t your thing, don’t worry.

Pay attention to these seven common tendering mistakes, and keep your submission on track.

Problem 1: Missing the mark

Far too many tender writers sell themselves short by failing to meet the brief.

This can take many guises – from answering a different question to the one asked (the typical politician’s response) to skipping questions and putting emphasis on skills which don’t match the job in hand.

Solution: Pay attention to detail

Read the tender document from start to finish at least a couple of times before you begin your submission.

This familiarises you with exactly what the tendering organisation is looking for in their ideal bid.

Then answer questions in order as fully as you can, ensuring you stay completely on brief with each one.

Problem 2: Giving a generic answer

Tender applicants can be tempted to cut and paste their answers, especially if they’re in the process of applying for lots of tenders.

This delivers a generic, one-size-fits-all solution for a unique challenge – like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. And the tendering organisation will suss this one in an instant!

Solution: Customise your offering

If you’re submitting multiple tenders, you can’t afford to be lazy. Each tender has its own specific requirements.

Unless you closely match all the criteria, your submission will be rejected in favour of someone who has taken the time to find bespoke solutions which cover off all the detail.

Problem 3: Getting too personal

Too many tender writers pepper their submissions with proud facts about their company’s history, prowess and general excellence.

They overlook the fact that the tendering organisation is only interested in how closely and effectively you can meet the tender requirements.

Solution: Be objective

Let your excellence show through in focused, targeted responses which match all the evaluation criteria.

Give clear examples of business achievements in the relevant part of the document, using a mix of client testimonials, case studies, awards and media coverage.

Letting others broadcast your strengths carries more weight than telling the story yourself.

Problem 4: Giving way-off costings

There are two distinct problems here. If you over-estimate costs, you will be ruled out as too expensive. If you under-estimate costs to push aside competitors, your bid is likely to be unrealistic.

Solution: Do your pricing homework

It’s essential to estimate your costs as accurately as possible, which involves meticulous pricing of every aspect of the project.

If the tender document doesn’t include its own pricing template, create your own to ensure realistic calculations and show that you’ve done your research.

Problem 5: Missing pieces

It doesn’t matter how wonderful the rest of your submission is. If you miss sections and fail to provide important, mandatory information, your work could be rejected in favour of a less impressive but more compliant competitor.

Solution: Give complete coverage

Proofread your work thoroughly before submitting, then get another pair of eyes to do likewise.

Someone else can often pick up small errors or omissions that we miss ourselves.

Problem 6: Assuming too much

If you have worked with the organisation before, you might be tempted to spend less time on your bid, assuming that this will weigh in your favour.

But you’re likely to face strong competition, which could show you up. And the final decision generally rests on strict financial and efficiency criteria, rather than your previous relationship with an organisation.

Solution: Treat every bid with respect

You have your professional reputation to maintain, and putting in sloppy bids can only do it harm.

Always adhere to the highest standards when submitting bids, and never assume your previous standing with the firm will go any way towards winning you the bid in question.

Problem 7: Missing the deadline

Never rely on the kindness or understanding of the tendering organisation.

They generally won’t care if some unfortunate incident prevents you submitting on time.

Solution: Meet the deadline!

The answer is simple. Get your submission in well within the deadline, and never leave it to the last possible minute. This avoids a technological or transport glitch scuppering your chances. And it bypasses a lot of stress and anxiety to boot.

Writing a tender document is both a science and an art. If you need help, call on the services of a professional tender writer to guide you through.



Certified Bid Writer