I addressed the conundrum of the conflict between setting a winning price in your Tender or Proposal, and one that will give you your targeted Profit in my last article,

How do you increase your price to give you your targeted Profit without losing the Tender, a concept some small and medium business people see as impossible?

In my previous article on how to improve your quotations (“How to Improve your Tender – and avoid being caught on your Minacc!”) I looked at how to develop your Minacc, the minimum acceptable price for your offering below which you would walk away from the opportunity.  I then looked at how to avoid some of the common mistakes people make in preparing their tender responses, unfortunate mistakes I have seen many times over the last thirty years.

There is one more and unfortunately major mistake that people very frequently make in submitting their bid, and that is emphasising price, and price alone in their quotation.

In this article, I show you how to present your submission so you that turn it into a Sales Tool and move it beyond price as the only consideration.

How to move beyond price

In discussions with a client on problems they were having with winning tenders, they revealed some of the changes they had made to the way they operate, changes which would give a completely different perspective to their bids.  Yet these perspective-changing improvements were not mentioned anywhere in their submissions.

It is important to move your tender submission beyond price, to have your potential client consider factors other than price in making their decision.  The organisation and presentation of your submission will help.

From a marketing viewpoint, the difficulty with simple quotations is that the information requested is limited to price and delivery.

Talk about a race to the bottom. If all you have given the potential customer is a price and a delivery date then, unless your delivery date is not satisfactory price is the only point of consideration your potential client will have to make a decision. And the lowest price will win.

But what if you could change the way they look at your offer. You can, if you write a properly structured tender. It’s more than just a quotation; it’s a sales letter that leads to a logical step; to place the order with you.

What is going to stop the potential customer buying?

Consider this; customers won’t buy when they have Objections, objections in their mind that suggest Risk. Have you removed any possible objections in the buyer’s mind? Your price alone won’t do that.

If they were in front of you no doubt they would be asking questions of you before they gave you the order. Those questions are in effect ‘barriers to the sale’ in their mind, barriers which increase the Risk to them. And if you can’t answer the questions then it’s likely you won’t make the sale.

If your goal is to get the sale from your tender response, then you must eliminate as much, if not all, of the Risk the potential customer perceives. Someone referred to an unanswered question as a ‘void’; if you haven’t filled the void, they are likely put in their own ‘answer’, an answer which might not be favourable to you.

If you don’t remove the Risk you are reduced to competing on price.  On the other hand, if you can remove the Risk, then you are competing on value, and price alone becomes of lesser importance. It never entirely goes away, but other factors enter the equation.

Why is the Tender being called? 

The potential customer has a problem they want to be solved.   That is why they seek your services. It may be a small problem, but they need to fix or improve something.  The more clearly you understand the outcome being sought, the more precisely you respond to their requirement.  Understanding that problem comes from the questions you ask before you prepare your submission.

So the first thing they need to see in your tender response is that you understand their problem. The way you do that is you restate the problem. Let’s be clear; the problem is not what they are buying; it is why they want the product or service.

Then you offer the solution

“Blogg Technology have been meeting the needs of a large range of industries and organisations including blah, blah, blah since __________.

To meet your requirement we propose…… ”, or some such comment. Then provide the detail of your solution.

Why should they choose your offering?

Now you have to tell them why your proposal will deliver the result, and what makes it different. What you have to show them here is a list of benefits that your solution provides. Note the difference between features (something your product or service has) and benefits (what that feature provides). It is the accumulation of benefits that solves their problem.

Every feature will have a benefit. Listing the benefits as a series of dot points makes them easier to review and understand.

How do they know you can do what you say you can do?

You need to prove your credibility.

  • The best way to demonstrate that is through practical examples, where have you provided similar product or services? So demonstrate relevant past experience in this area, giving sufficient detail to make the example credible, without giving away any commercial details.
  • Then back that by listing some referees they can talk to, having first got their permission of course. The very fact you have referees adds veracity.
  • Thirdly add testimonials. Testimonials do make a difference. We tend to think they are “not quite right”, a bit “salesy”, but people who are professional writers of sales material have tested this repeatedly. The reason you keep seeing testimonials in ads is they work. They work in tender submissions as well. Testimonials offer further “proof”, thus further reducing the Risk in the potential customer’s mind.

What will happen if you don’t get the job right?

At the moment, if you don’t get it right, the Risk is with the customer. The Risk is in the results, because that is what the customer is seeking, a result, his problem solved or need met.  So:

  • Identify the underlying Risk in the customer’s mind, and
  • Reduce or remove the Risk

Transfer the Risk to you. It’s called “Risk Reversal”. If you can take away the Risk in the customer’s mind, you take away the pressure on him. If you won’t take the Risk, why should the customer take it?

So you offer a guarantee. It doesn’t have to be a money-back guarantee. Yes, someone might take you up on it, but you’ll also get a lot more sales than you would otherwise.

If you offer a money-back guarantee, give it a period like 3 or 6 months. Now here is the interesting thing.  It might sound counter-intuitive, but the longer the period of your guarantee, the less likely it is to be called up.

Of course, there needs to be a condition – they have to have maintained the product/service in accordance with the instructions, or not interfered with the product/service in any way. But you’re not looking for a way out; you’re looking for trust.

Price – now is the time to put this down

Be specific about what the price covers, and don’t forget to give the price a validity period. After all, the cost of the product/service to you could vary if there is too big a delay in the order being placed. “This quote is valid for 30 days from the date of this submission.” Even if your reponse is a straight sales letter rather than a tender submission, there should be a time limit to create urgency.

When are you going to deliver?

People need to know when they are going to get delivery. If they don’t they’re going to be uncomfortable.

Be specific about when the customer will get delivery, specifics make people feel more comfortable. That is what the request for quotation is about – the result. Failure to quote a delivery date raises a question in the agency’s mind again, just when you have got rid of all the objections.

If there are stages to the delivery, quote the stages. That helps their understanding, and clear understanding promotes trust.

Do you see the structure?

The whole tender submission is a step-by-step process to build trust and remove all the doubts in the potential customer’s mind, leading to the point where the only logical step is to place their order with you?

And don’t worry about the length of the submission.  Worry about answering all possible questions in their mind, the barriers to a sale.

Obviously, the larger the quotation, the more possible objections there may be and the more detail that might be required. However, even for a small quotation, a brief but systematic response following this model would assist in taking the focus off price alone.

A successful quotation is much more than a product and a price.

There is one more issue – Presentation

An excellent presentation will make you look so much more professional, and help the buyer feel more comfortable about dealing with you. If the way your industry does things is a simple “price, quality, delivery” quotation here is your chance to make yourself different, and stand out.

Simple things like the use of a standard font, short paragraphs of no more than 3-4 sentences, short sentences averaging 14 words, and dot points making it easy to scan can make a big difference.

You can improve your quotation or tender by turning it into a sales tool to be used for your advantage, improving both your chances and your profitability.

Good luck only happens to those that get in front of it. 

So spend a little more time on preparing your next Tender, proposal or quotation. 

If you have a potential tender coming up and would like to explore this problem further, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we’ll set up a time for a chat.

PricingNo doubt you have agonised over the conflict between setting a winning price in your Tender or Proposal, and one that will give you your targeted Profit.

I addressed one side of this conundrum in an earlier article, “When Quoting, is Price the Only Thing”.  In that article, I discussed the question of the “Evaluation Process”, which in Australia seeks to determine the best “Value for Money” (VFM), how to best meet the Assessors requirements for value.

Price is always part of the equation, but only part of it.  However, in developing your tender response or proposal, you also need to establish your baseline price.

Back in my aerospace industry days, we were never allowed to submit a major Quotation or Proposal without establishing our Minacc (Minimum Acceptable Price), the price at which we would walk away. 

For some businesses, the majority of their income comes from quoted or tendered situations. And very nerve-wracking it can be. Have you ever been in a situation when you have been advised that your Tender was successful, and your first thought was either “I must have quoted too low!” or “What did I leave out?”

That thought reflects a problem, an emphasis on price and price alone in your Tender.

Quoting or tendering is required in more complex situations where there may be a number of variables or unknowns. Typically industries that face formal quoting or tendering include landscaping, earthworks, building and construction, fabrication, repairs and maintenance, plumbing & electrical works, manufacturing non-standard products or 'one-offs', and professional services such as graphic design, IT, legal, accounting, consulting, engineering etc.

The desired results may be delivered in different ways.  They usually involve a combination of labour and materials and possibly sub-contract and equipment hire.  Professional services usually involve labour only but may have a sub-contract element.

Of course, you may be asked to quote on supply of standard items in which case the purchaser is looking for the best possible price and delivery, so you are back to the tactics discussed in the article above.

There’s more to a quote or tender than just the price even in that situation, or there should be if you want to improve your chances.

In this article, I’ll look at how to establish your Minacc, and how to avoid the common mistakes people make in quoting.

Do you know your Minacc?

Quoting is usually to a specified requirement, the "specifications". These may be generalised or involve detailed drawings and/or instructions.  The specifications should include the outcome required, the quantities involved, and the delivery date.

Note – many a problem arises when successfully quoting to incomplete or loose specifications.

A fundamental step is to establish to know your base position; the price at which you would walk away from the job because it does not meet your minimum profit requirements. We called that “Minacc” – the minimum acceptable price.  Minacc should not be guessed. You need a process such as the following:

1. Break the job down into its key components or logical steps. When undertaking projects, this is known as the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

2. Determine how you will undertake each of these components - how much will be undertaken by your labour, what equipment is required, and what materials, parts, products or sub-contract are required.

3. Cost or seek quotes for the hire of equipment (if needed), and the materials, parts, products or sub-contract.

4. Determine how long each task requiring labour will take and multiply by the quantities required. In part, this will depend on the equipment necessary, be it a backhoe or a lathe. If more than one product or deliverable is needed, be sure to separate the one-off set-up (non-recurring) costs from the recurring costs.

5. Determine the charge out rate to be applied to your labour, and if appropriate, to your equipment.

6. Identify any add-on costs that may be required; for example, travel and accommodation.

7. Analyse the risks associated with the job.  What is the likelihood of some occurrence arising which will add to your costs, for example, unexpected rock in an excavation job?  Or risk may arise from incomplete specifications which leave you to guess what the real requirement is.

There is always some risk in a job. What you need to do is determine the likelihood and consequences, and how you are going to cover that risk.

Be quite clear on this. A risk factor is not fat. It is a cost you know will occur but cannot accurately identify.  Our Board required a minimum “contingency” of 5% to cover the “unknowns”.  Of course, you can't identify it in your tender response.  In one major quotation, the unknowns were so great I had a contingency of 20%.  That made an interesting challenge.

8. Assemble all the costs.

9. Determine your Minacc - with the minimum Profit you wish to make - and then stand back and review. Where possible check your price against actual performance for other similar jobs.  Get someone else to check your quote for any errors.

10. Now you have to determine the bid price.

  • What do you think the market will bear?
  • What is the competition like?
  • Have you any distinct points of difference which adds to your value?
  • Can you demonstrate performance on other contracts of a ‘similar nature, scope and size’?
  • Can you back this experience with impressive testimonials?

This is important. Now you are looking to move the value in your Tender beyond price alone, while improving your chances of success.

Do you use a template for costing and pricing? There are advantages in doing so. A template will considerably reduce the time taken to prepare your pricing. Built-in formulae will ensure you do not make errors of calculation. It will also act as a checklist to make sure you haven't overlooked anything and provide a record for when you win the job.

I’m continually surprised by how many businesses do not have a formal process for preparing a tender, including a pricing template.  Prices worked out on random spreadsheets and laboriously translated into a tender response may not be consistent.

Some of the mistakes people make in preparing their price?

Failing to incorporate some direct costs - Failure to incorporate costs that are directly attributable to a job or project can lead to loss of profits.  Examples I have seen include:

  • A market research assignment may require a lot of telephone work. Telephone costs are normally considered part of overheads, but if they are incurred disproportionately against a project, then allowance should be made in the pricing.
  • Freight either associated with incoming products and materials or for delivery is often buried in overheads. However, it is usually a Variable Cost directly related to Cost of Sales.
  • Replacement tools - many small hand tools are worn out during the year, with the rate of usage directly related to the amount of work being done. They are thus a Variable Cost.
  • Consumables should be treated similarly.
  • If such costs are not attributed to the Cost of Sales either directly or through the calculation of your charge-out rate, they become an overhead or not included in the sale price.

Confusing owner’s salary and Profit - As a business owner or manager you need to distinguish between the salary the business pays for your skill and experience, and the Profit the business returns you for the risk of investing in the business.

Your salary is not Profit. It is a cost of doing business. The Profit your business should earn, after allowing for all wages, should be at least equal to what you could earn by investing your capital in a low-risk investment such as government bonds.

The dangers of discounting - Unless your cost of sales goes down at the same rate as the sales price is lowered, the loss in margin comes straight off your nett profit line.

Look before you cut prices to win a job!  Because the cuts come straight off the bottom line, you have to sell more just to maintain the same level of profits.

And the next time you bid the buyer will expect a similar price. With one client, I found that a major client of theirs was getting their work at a charge-out rate below cost purely because of this factor.

It is important to move your quotation beyond price, to have your potential customer consider factors other than price in making their decision.

From a marketing viewpoint, the difficulty with simple quotations is that the information requested is often limited to price and delivery.   Tenders are much more complex.

The problem that placing all emphasis on price is that this leaves the Buyer with only one thing on which they can make a decision – the price. And which way will they be looking for the price to go? DOWN!

So spend a little more time on preparing your next Tender, proposal or quotation. 

If you have a potential tender coming up and would like to explore this problem further, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we’ll set up a time for a chat.

Good luck only happens to those that get in front of it. 

Don’t you just hate it when you put a lot of effort into a bid, and fail? Whether it be a Request for Tender (RFT), Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP), all require time, effort, and resources, and can then be wasted by a mistake which causes you to lose out.

 

Yet most such mistakes can be overcome relatively simply by following a few rules. For the sake of simplicity in this article I refer to all types of bids as tenders. Although there are some differences in the intent of each, they all seek an offer from you.  Always remember, it’s about them, and the outcome they want, and not you.

The mistakes and how to overcome or avoid them are common to all.

Why do you need to avoid those mistakes?

It’s simple really - money, income, revenue. Government, whether it be Federal, State and Local, procure largely through tenders. And they are big spenders.

Quite literally, many billions of dollars or work for goods and services are put out for tender each year.  But don’t think this is only for the big boys.  The majority of contracts by number, usually 65% or more, are let to SMEs (entities with 200 or fewer employees).

And frequently those contracts can run over a number of years, giving you a solid base to your cash flow.

In each jurisdiction the state or territory government is the largest single source of contracts.

It is not just government that procure through tenders. Businesses do also. The larger the business the more formal will be its procurement processes.

There are some differences of course. The bigger the government decision, the more likely it is to drag. The private sector is less averse to risk and typically makes their decision in a much shorter timeframe.

 

But the more formal the private sector’s procurement processes the more likely the same mistakes are likely to creep into respondent’s submissions. So learning how to avoid the tendering pitfalls will make a significant difference to your business.

Preparing tenders and quotations can help you to win big orders, but it can also be time-consuming, cost money and tie up valuable resources. If you don't get the contract the money and time spent is lost, so you need to weigh up whether a tender is worth bidding for.

So spend a little more time on preparing your next Tender, proposal or quotation.

 

Last year I ran a Pilot course online - “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula”. 

I believe now is the time to run it again

If you are business which:

  • Would like to crack the government market, but don't know how to do so.
  • Continually tender for these contracts, but don't win many.
  • Can't afford to lose a government contract which underpins your business

this course will help you to develop the skills you need.  

TenderWins will help you develop the skills to submit well presented, compliant and compelling responses so that you win more tenders, without stress or feeling under pressure.  You will learn how to prepare for, analyse and persuasively respond to tender requirements. 

To develop compliant, persuasive responses we will look at Preparation, Planning, Pricing, Writing, Presentation, and Submission. 

As you would know, we all learn best by “doing” – exercising the mind through activities to put into practice what we have been learning.  But it has to be meaningful activity, not theoretical, if we are to transform your tendering.  So that’s what you will be doing.  I will be giving you practical, real life activities to reinforce what you have learnt each step of the way.

TenderWins – The Winning Tender Formula”. will be delivered by online video, supported by regular live Q & A sessions.  You will also have personal access by telephone and email once a week.

You will also have personal access by telephone and email once a week.

You can win more – and here is no reason why you shouldn’t do so.  Follow the formula and turn frustration, stress and time into celebration and profits, as these clients have. 

If you would like to explore this further, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll set up a time for a chat.

Good luck only happens to those that get in front of it. 

Imagine if you could increase your turnover significantly by a small, no-cost improvement in just one area of your business.

And I’m not talking about increasing your marketing, changing your marketing message, or increasing the number of channels through which you promote your business.

No, I’m suggesting changing just one thing. Would that be worthwhile investigating, spending some time thinking through how it could be applied to your business?

That one area is your success or conversion rate from the tenders, quotations, bids or proposals you submit. Most small businesses have to submit some form of tender, quotation or bid unless they are in retail.

Let me give a specific, real‐life example. “Bill” is a manufacturer, just a small business with about eight employees. It is a good business, with a well-run operation, although like most small businesses, he doesn’t pay much attention to marketing.  His expertise is in his services and the technical knowledge he brings to them.

Pretty much all their business comes from tenders, quotations or proposals he submits. He wins about33% of those; sometimes he is beaten by the competition, sometimes the prospect defers or decides not to proceed.

That 33% gives a reasonable turnover, and because he is a good operator, a satisfactory level of profits.

Now just suppose he could lift his success rate from 33% to 40%, from 1 in 3 to 1 in 2.5. Assuming the average value in each contract didn’t change, that would increase his turnover by 33%, and do so without any increase in his marketing costs.

And that doesn’t even take into account improvements through converting enquiries or sales leads into requests for a quote. Or of course, increasing the number of enquiries.

Sounds a lot, so how can he do that?

The one thing he shouldn’t do is to try and achieve the increased success rate by reducing his price. That would defeat the whole purpose of lifting turnover, and that is to increase profits.

Discounting for small businesses is a dangerous strategy, fraught with peril.  Discount and you are guaranteed to have a profit leak.

And quoting pricing too early in the process can turn you into a commodity versus an expert advisor and solution provider.

If the price is the problem, you've done a not so‐good job in your marketing.  All reducing prices does, apart from destroying profitability, is to turn your business into a commodity.  If you do that, clients will treat it as a commodity and not of something of value.

That is not to say that pricing is not important.  It is, as I’ll discuss later on.  It's not just one thing that works in tendering or quoting i.e. not just price; it is a number of things.  And because most small businesses don’t present their tenders, quotations or proposals well you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that a lot of small businesses don’t spend much time on their tenders, quotations or proposals. In fact, many regard submitting tenders and proposals as something to be hurried through so they can get on with their main job, doing the job.

So we see the poorly laid‐out typed tender, replete with typos, providing the minimum of information on price and delivery, or a quick hand‐written quotation scribbled into a carbon‐copy quotation book.

Think about it; what will stop a prospective client buying? It is uncertainty, too many doubts or objections in their mind; a feeling of too much risk. With no other information to go by the prospective customer will just take the lowest quote.

Surely a tender, quotation, sales pitch or proposal deserves more than something that just has to be hurried through. After all, it is the prerequisite to your next order, and the cash flow it brings.

“People need to justify decisions logically. While people make emotional decisions, they justify those decisions with logic and facts. You should always give people the appropriate justification for making a purchase.” JW Corbett

Here are 5 steps you must take in submitting any tender or quotation!

  • Clearly demonstrate you understand what the prospect is really after – solving their problem;
  • Illustrate your solution graphically with a picture or diagram if you are offering a physical product, or the results of your service;
  • Identify the prospect’s possible objections or uncertainties, and counter them before they become fixed in their mind;
  • Demonstrate how others have found you reliable and good value through testimonials;
  • Remove risk by offering a guarantee;
  • Work on your presentation and check for typos;
  • Establish your Minacc (minimum acceptable price);
  • Avoid the common mistakes people make in preparing their prices; and
  • Properly present your quotation to confirm your professionalism.

Properly presented tenders, proposals or quotations will both make you stand out from your competition and increase your success rate. All without changing anything else. Small change, big result. Now that must be worthwhile. All it takes is a little more time.

As I have been saying to you, Governments at all level will be putting out projects to help stimulate their economies.  And it is happening.

So spend a little more time on preparing your next Tender, proposal or quotation.

Last year I ran a Pilot course online - “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula”. 

I believe now is the time to run it again.  If you would like to explore this further, contact me at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll set up a time for a chat.

Good luck only happens to those that get in front of it. 

Sing from the Assessor’s Song Sheet

business shake 400 clr 3110Last week we looked at the building blocks for a successful tender response, and how you might use them.  A key point was not to leave preparation for a successful tender response until the last minute, but to have all the data, information you need available to minimise the stress and time in preparing a persuasive and compelling response.   It requires developing a database of files, images, case studies, CVs etc. you can draw upon when required.

It is how you use and present that information that makes all the difference.

As I mentioned: “Tenders take time, and effort".  If you have to put a lot of both into your response, you will put yourself under pressure. And you know what happens then; mistakes, typos, forgetting to add final details, not enough time to review and edit.

A poorly thought-through and presented response can do you damage and tarnish your reputation in the marketplace.”

I started with the Executive Summary, that critical document at the front of your response which compels the Assessor to want to read more – put a mental tick, not a mental cross in their mind from the start.

Now let’s move on to the other elements.

Technical Details

There’s not much you can do with the next, except make a mistake.  Somewhere in the RFT you will be asked for details about your business, that you are who you say you are, and can be checked upon.

Tenderer Details – Legal entity name, ABN, addresses, contact details etc.

Declaration by Tenderer – received any addenda, agree to Conditions of Contract, Business Status (not bankrupt etc.), validity period etc,

I’ll leave that up to you.  Just make sure it is error free.  Errors suggest possible objections.  They may only be a typo, but you don’t want to raise doubts.

Price/Schedule of Rates

This is not about your price, but how you present it.  My message is that having great technical skills is not enough to win such contracts.  Nor is discounting.  Price is but one factor, and rarely the most important.  You need to be able to draft persuasive and compelling responses that demonstrate you are the only logical choice for the contract.

Please do not do what one coaching client did; decide that the pricing format the agency asked for “was not how they did their pricing”!  That is lead balloon stuff.  If that is the way the prospective client wants the pricing information presented, give it to them in their format. 

Make it easy for them.

Don’t make life difficult for the Assessors by making it hard for them to compare prices.  When quoting, price is not the only thing.  

Basic Requirements

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill.  Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

But you must still comply.  Depending on the requirement, that may include certifications in Quality, Work Health & Safety, Diversity, and so on.  They may want to see that you have them.

You must check the compliance requirements – if you don’t tick these boxes, then all your persuasive responses will go to waste. 

Add to these the “Nice to Have” elements which reinforce the persuasive elements of your response.

Now you have to persuade them why the Contract should be awarded to you!

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill.  Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

You demonstrate that you have the capacity and capability to deliver in responding to the Assessment Criteria.  Draft a response drawing on your past performance to support your claims.  Show where you have undertaken similar jobs, and the testimonials that you have received in doing so.

Case studies, testimonials, images all help add credibility to your claims.   They validate your Value Proposition.  What makes you different from your competition.

It is about removing any objections to you being the “only logical choice”.  You must demonstrate, not just claim, that you have the ability, capability, capacity, and systems to deliver.  And in doing so, remove any doubts.

You need to “avoid blowing your chances with your tender or proposal”

The Role of Presentation

What I have learnt over many years of both writing tenders and coaching is the importance of presentation.

Your presentation has a role to play.  What will your proposal look like, visually that is?  And how will it read?  Does it get your message across?   Does your presentation make it easier to read?  If it is easier to read, then your communication will communicate. 

You want a stand-out presentation, one that will not have the Assessor’s eyes glazing over.  It reduces risk in the Assessors’ minds, makes you look professional, and reduces the emphasis on price.

Don’t forget the role of images to demonstrate – “show”, not just ”tell”.

If you would like to read more on this go to:
https://catalystnt.com.au/articles/152-the-importance-of-presentation-in-your-tenders-quotations-pt-1
https://catalystnt.com.au/articles/153-the-importance-of-presentation-in-your-tenders-quotations-pt-2

There’s One Final Step

As I mentioned above, not having time to edit and review leads to mistakes which could cause you to lose the tender, or cost you money if you win it.  The problem is we tend to read what we expect to see, so take a break, if you have time, before you read and review, and sign off for submission. 

Or get someone not involved in the preparation of the response to review and check.

Could your Tender Response be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your Tender Response, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.before the end of Christmas.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

 

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon,
6 December, 2019

Responding is more than “just fill in the boxes”!

business figure at finish line 2A client recently asked me if I could develop a “template” for his business to respond to Requests for Tender (RFT) and Requests for Proposal (RFP) or Quotation (RFQ). 

This is not a simple matter.  You may have a similar question, but perhaps you need more detail or explanation.  Let me see if I can help.

The first thing to understand is that there is no ‘one’ template for tendering.  Each procurement organisation will have their own requirements and call RFTs, RFPs or RFQs to meet their requirements, not yours. 

It is always important to respond in the order as laid out in the Request.  Don’t make it difficult for the Assessors to evaluation and compare – make it easy.  Sing from the Assessor’s song sheet, not yours.

Having said that, the following building blocks are likely to be a requirement in any RFT/RFP/RFQ.  You need to ensure that you have the information needed to meet the agency’s requirements which comes from these building blocks.   However, that won’t necessarily win you the contract. 

It is how you use and present that information that makes all the difference.

Let’s start by looking at the building blocks,

Covering Letter and/or Executive Summary – an opportunity to get the Assessors looking forward to reading your submission.

Tenderer Details – Legal entity name, ABN, addresses, contact details etc.
Declaration by Tenderer – received any addenda, agree to Conditions of Contract, Business Status (not bankrupt etc.), the validity period

Price/Schedule of Rates – depends on the nature of the RFT/RFP/RFQ

Local Content

•    Location, sub-contractors, suppliers, policies, future opportunities

•    Employment – FTE, apprentices, Indigenous, training (accredited?), policies

•    Social and Community Contributions – what do you put back into your community

Past Performance and Timeliness

•    Overview of your business

•    Experience in providing Services of similar nature, scope and scale – specific examples, value

•    Evidence of your achievements in providing these services – performance, testimonials

•    Referees – preferably for the above examples

•    Capability to consistently achieve agreed timeframes for services – facilities, equipment, project management, etc

•    Certifications and Processes used to monitor compliance with timeframes and contingency plans – contract administration, reporting, risk management, QMS etc.

Supply Specific and Capacity/Capability

•    Organisational structure

•    Key personnel involved in the contract, role, experience, qualifications and certifications, business relationship 

•    Proposed Subcontractors – scope, value,

•    Overall capacity to provide – in conjunction with existing and planned commitments

•    Identify issues and assumptions that may impact your Organisation’s ability to meet the contract

•    Issue resolution - you will deal with issues that arise with the client in a timely manner

•    Facilities and equipment

You need to have a database with this information readily available to be crafted into your response.

Now to craft the building blocks into a compelling and persuasive response

Successful tender writing isn’t simply about answering the questions, providing a technical description and putting in a price.  Success comes from understanding the tendering process, careful preparation, differentiating yourself from the competition, and putting in a professional sales document.

I have explored the subject of the tender response a number of times, so I’m going to give you some guidance to using the above, and then refer you to the detail in those posts.

Tenders take time, and effort.  If you have to put a lot of both into your response, you will put yourself under pressure. And you know what happens then; mistakes, typos, forgetting to add final details, not enough time to review and edit.

A poorly thought-through and presented response can do you damage and tarnish your reputation in the marketplace.  Your response gives the client an impression of the overall professionalism and capability of your business; lack of attention to detail, or signs of being rushed, will not fill the prospect with confidence.  You need to be TenderWins ready.  

The Executive Summary

Tender proposals are like presentations - they need to be engaging. And it starts with your Executive Summary. You need to draft a compelling Executive Summary so that the Assessor wants to read more.

The Executive Summary summarises the key elements of your response the Assessor reads before getting down to the detail.  You need to condense your understanding of their requirement, the problem they’re trying to solve, demonstrate your value proposition, briefly describe how you are going to deliver the solution, and why they can be assured you will.

It lets the Assessors know upfront you clearly understand what the outcome they are seeking and tells them where they can find the information that meets their Assessment Criteria.

Simplifying the complex issues you deal with in more detail in your response is no easy task. But, it’s definitely beneficial for the Assessor (and you) when you can do it and do it well.

But there’s an issue here - A benefit does not always create an emotional reaction that leads to a buying decision. Emotion is certainly important. As has been said many times, people buy for emotional reasons (even in business), and rationalise their decision with the facts (the features).

However, are those emotional benefits you put to the prospect the ones that are really important to them? You have to dig deep to find, and understand, the real pain the prospect is feeling, or fearing. You have to find their “hot buttons”.  And that means asking questions.

By the time the Assessor has read your Executive Summary you want him to already have a tick in his mind about you.  Your Executive Summary should be persuasive and make a compelling case for the contract to be awarded to you.  Don’t blow your chances.   

Does your Value Proposition solve their problem?

Remember, a good proposal is about the prospect, not you.  People don’t want the product per se, they want what the product will do for them – the benefits.

Next Week

There’s more to come.  Next week I’ll look at

•    Technical Details,

•    Price/Schedule of Rates,

•    Basic Requirements,

•    Persuasion,

•    the Role of Presentation, and

•    One Final Step.

Could your Tender Response be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your Tender Response, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.before Christmas.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

AG2Signature4 2

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon,

29 November, 2019

There’s money out there!

In fact, there are a bewildering number of sources of grants.

Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or given by one party (grant makers)

The challenges are to know what you need, to find the right source of the grant you need, and to draft a compelling and persuasive submission.

And that is very like writing a winning tender submission.

The Purpose of Grants

The first thing to understand is the grants are not really about you.  They are about those providing the money, not those receiving it. 

Again, that is a very similar situation to when a government agency calls a tender.  Misunderstanding this can cause failure.

Grants are generally a method for a government to enact their policy in a particular area.  Governments want to make something happen.

Billions of dollars in grants funding is provided each year. The trick is to make sure your organisation gets what it needs.

An important thing to know about grants is that they are generally given for projects or programs, not for your core funding.  Wages, administration costs, etc. are almost always excluded unless these are part of the project or program.

Project-specific funding is the most common. There are grants that provide funding for new organizations, operational costs, and endowment funding, etc.  They can be for new initiatives, technology, employment, regional development and so on.

Who Provides Grants?

The Federal Government and the separate state governments have business development grants, business assistance programs and incentives that are available to businesses. You can browse through the various sites of the individual government departments and, based on your business you can select the grant program most applicable to your situation.

  • Federal Government funding is generally provided for projects with a national reach or benefit
  • State Governments are a likely source if your activities are focused in a particular region.  In the business sector, the State grants generally complement the Federal grants by filling the gaps.  State level grants are usually available for businesses that meet the State’s development agenda. This could be regional development, focus on a particular industry, job creation or to fund research in a particular subject.
  • For the community sector, much of the Federal funding is delivered through State Government agencies.
  • Councils are also very active in funding both business and community organisations. They may coordinate networking events and other services to further support economic development.  Similarly, other local council grants may be available for businesses that run local conferences, expos and seminars within the locality or otherwise contribute to local development.
  • Philanthropic trusts and foundations also offer significant funding for a wide range of projects, particularly in the community sector.These grants can be hard to find, especially when donors wish to remain anonymous. 

Business Activities Funded

For business, grant funding is available for a broad range of activities. The focus, however, is generally on the following areas:

•    Research & Development

•    Innovation

•    Sustainability and Green Technology

•    Export

•    Manufacturing

•    Agriculture

•    IT & Communication Services

•    Medical & Biotechnology

Writing Your Submission

You have identified a likely Grant!  Don’t stuff it up with a poorly written submission.

Grant writing, like drafting compelling and persuasive tender responses, is a complex process and if you are not familiar with the field then your organisation should look at options and support.

It is also a competitive process.

Good grant applications clearly state:

  • Who will benefit?
  • What is going to happen?
  • Where is it going to happen?
  • Why does it need to happen?
  • When is it going to happen? and
  • How is it going to happen and
  • How much will it cost?

You have to know this clearly in order to communicate it.

Drafting submissions is a skill that you can learn, and improve.  If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every submission you make. 

But if writing is not your skill, consider getting professional help.

Managing Your Grant

Before you accept any money from a grant-maker, you must be sure you have the capacity to carry out the terms  of the contract.
After you get the money you have to deliver exactly what you said you would deliver, in the timeframe that you said you would deliver it in.

If funders believe you can deliver projects on time, on  budget, and in the same form as they were approved, you’ll have more hope of achieving a second or third grant, or even ongoing funding (though it’s wise to treat every  grant as a one-off).

Take the Next Step

Don’t you just hate it when you put a lot of effort into a submission, and fail.  Whether it be a Grant Request or Tender, all require time, effort, and resources. Who wants all that to be wasted by a mistake which causes you to lose out?

It is an old adage that we learn from experience.  When it comes to writing requests and tenders I’ve made my share of mistakes, and hopefully I’ve learnt from them.

And having coached, trained and mentored many businesses in drafting proposals and requests I’ve also seen many mistakes made.

How many more times do you want to submit a grant request without getting the results you want, or need? 

I want to offer you something to implement the issues I have been discussing here, a stepping-stone to more successful submissions.

  • A 30 minute chat about some of your submission issues
  • I will identify your opportunities for improvement
  • If I can’t help, I’ll recommend someone who can
  • There is no cost for the chat.  This is my gift to you

If you are tired of wasting more time and not winning those grants or getting the results you want, then contact me right now – go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and type “I’m interested” into the subject line, and I’ll contact you.

Adam Gordon
© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon

How to Use the “Vital Few”

A recent article in My Business “Shedding clients grew a business sevenfold in 5 years” discussed how a business sacrificed short term revenue and shed less profitable customers to focus on more high-value ones – and grew by “six to seven” times in just five years. 

It is an excellent example of the application to a business of what is known as Pareto’s Law.

Back in 1906 an Italian economist, Pareto, observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He later investigated other countries and found, to his surprise, that the same principle applied.

Many years later an American consultant, Joseph Juran, named the principle Pareto’s Law.  He also referred to it as "the vital few and the useful many".  Juran used it as a tool for continuous improvement in businesses, initially in quality management for manufacturing, but then on systems and processes throughout businesses.  It became a great tool for reducing costs.

If there were production, quality or service problems, he wouldn’t try and fix all the problems, but rather identify the “vital few” that caused most of the problems, and fix those.

You may know it as the “80-20 Rule”.  And very useful it is too!

In later years, Juran emphasised the remaining 80% should not be totally ignored.  And I agree with that.

I’m sure many of you have used this Rule in your business, even if you didn’t know where it came from.

The first thing to understand is that of course the ratio is not going to be exactly 80-20.  What you are looking for is the ‘vital few’.  The vital few could be 33/67 or whatever. 

You probably know of the 80-20 Rule in relation to sales; 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products or services. 

But what about profitability?  80-20 can gives us a different picture.  Which of your products or services produce the majority of your profits?

Might it be useful to apply the 80-20 tool to our customers?  After all, we sell products and services, but customers buy them.  Their decision, not ours.  It is also suggested that 80% of sales come from 20% of your customers. 

In my experience, it does.  And equally importantly, which customers provide the majority of your profits?  More customers doesn’t always mean higher profits.

So what does the 80-20 Rule mean for your marketing, future cash flow and profitability?

The whole point of this Rule is that you will get most of your sales and profits from a small proportion of your products, and customers.  

And once you know that, your marketing can be targeted, and not sprayed.  You can more tightly define your ideal customer, and refine your marketing, so you are more directly talking to them, and not to “everybody”. 

As I said in “Does your Marketing Tail Stretch to the Sea?”, if you spend $500 on a promotion from the mountain to the sea, i.e. to everyone, your promotional message will be about everyone, and no-one.  The first thing any potential buyer looks for in any promotion is WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Because your ‘landscape’ message will of necessity be general, no-one will be able to say “that’s me”, and be enticed into your message.

Good businesses work on the important tasks, not just the urgent ones; improving sales, improving margins, and reducing costs. And the 80-20 Rule is a good tool to do just that.

Remember you don’t have to fix everything to close a performance gap.  You just have to fix the few things that are causing most of the problem.

I’m know many excellent businesses who use the 80-20 Rule to improve not just the profitability of their sales, but to improve the business behind them.

Good businesses keep getting better.  They keep getting better because they continually work on all their key processes, only one or two at a time if necessary, to build a better business. 

I have written further about this in:

Why the 80-20Rule is so Useful – And Where should you Use It

More Uses of the 80-20 Rule

How to Remove the Impediments to Progress

Take the Next Step

When clients find it difficult to achieve their goals, it often comes down to a lack of clarity of what is happening in their business, and not being able to identify Vital Few.  If they could, they would have used them, and achieved their goals.

You need to know what is happening in your business, and that means more than acting on PHOGY thinking.  The road to success is paved with good information, so you can see where you have been, and where you are going, and not be fog-bound.

For more than 30 years I’ve been helping small business owners use the right tactics to plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them determine their Vital Few and free them up so their goals are achieved.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  There is no cost.

To your profitability and enhanced cash flow.

 

Adam Gordon
© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon 

Clients who provide consistent work, clients who build your business’s reputation.

What would life be like if you could consistently win tenders, and do so on the basis of the value you provide, rather than the lowest price? To have clients who are more interested in the value of your solution to their problem, rather than trying to beat you down on price. Once they have agreed to your proposal, that’s it. You just have to keep your side of the bargain, and deliver the value you promised.

Governments are such a client. They operate at three levels; Federal, State/Territory, Local. And they spend many millions of dollars every month on the products and services from industry.

A Government contract can call for delivery of a one-off specific product or service such as ‘construct a building’, or provide repeated products or services over a period, such as ‘cleaning services for a government building’,

As I posted in my article, Are you Missing Out on Lucrative Contracts, “businesses are losing out on lucrative projects as they are not submitting for work through government tenders.

In particular it is SMEs that are not recognising the ongoing opportunities for business projects, and these opportunities span across all industries and sectors.”

The Profit Leak Detective is dedicated to assisting small and medium businesses get the attention of their ideal prospects in government, and convert them into paying clients for their services and programs by submitting persuasive and compelling tender responses.

Picture a bright future where:

  • You feel absolutely confident in the value you provide to government, and can clearly communicate that value in your tender response.
  • You present a response which the agency congratulates itself on accepting.
  • Your position yourself as an authority in your market through regularly winning government contracts, which in turn leads to a steady stream of high-quality leads calling you
  • You know you’ll hit your annual sales and profit objectives.
  • You are a contributor to the governments agency’s success, not a supplier they can easily replace.

As a result, you have peace of mind knowing your cash flow fuels your growth, and your business is an asset which gives you choices.

This is the world you live in when you’ve learned, implemented and mastered my TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula methodology for submitting winning response and closing more highly profitable business.

My message is that having great technical skills is not enough to win such contracts. Nor is discounting. Price is but one factor, and rarely the most important. You need to be able to draft persuasive and compelling responses that demonstrate you are the only logical choice for the contract.

Now this may not be for you, but as the above article suggests, it can be a lucrative market across a broad range of activities. There is almost certainly an opportunity for you – if you can win the tender!

Even if you are winning, you can’t rest on your laurels.

Tendering is one of those skills in which you have to keep improving, because the competition is also looking to continually get better, and times are getting tougher, despite the opportunities.

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill. Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

If you are business which:

  • Would like to crack the government market, but don't know how to do so.
  • Continually tender for these contracts, but don't win many.
  • Can't afford to lose a government contract which underpins your business

My TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula online course will help you to develop the skills you need to submit.
You will develop the skills to submit well presented, compliant and compelling responses so that you win more tenders, without stress or feeling under pressure.

Later in the year, I’ll be running a full version of the course, but I’m starting with it as a Pilot. However, because of the high amount of personal interaction with me that's involved in this first pilot, I have to limit this to only 20 people.

The TenderWins Course

Each lesson is an action step that helps bring you closer to your ideal outcome. The course is simple, structured and achievable.

Modules will cover:

  • Preparation
  • Planning
  • Determining your Win Strategy
  • Pricing
  • Presentation
  • Submission
  • Post submission

The cost is only $497 and here’s the link to PayPal. Once you pay, you will get a link to the course so you can register.

As an added bonus, you will get free access to the full course, which will be priced at $1,497 once it is launched.

You can win more – and here is no reason why you shouldn’t do so. Follow the formula and turn frustration, stress and time into celebration and profits, as my clients have.

But you will need to be quick!

The first Module will be available online on Monday 29th July at 6.00 am AEST, and continuing with weekly Modules at the same day and time each week for a total of [4] classes, with our last class commencing 19th August. There will always be an activity to complete.

Each Module will be followed every Thursday by an online Q & A session in which you can ask me questions you may have, and share the experiences of the group.

For our Q & A session we’ll be using an online video conferencing program for all of the calls, and you can access the meetings with the link I’ll send.

And shortly after the call, you’ll get access to the recordings as well.

Then there's the real work, which gets done “before” the Q & A calls, following release of each week’s lesson material on Monday - that's when you apply the lessons you’ve learned, complete and submit your assignments, and ask me any further questions.

We’ll be using a Case Study throughout the course. It would be ideal if you could use an unsuccessful tender or major quotation to practice on. All exercises will be based on your Case Study, rather than a theoretical exercise. I’ll have a back-up for you, but it would mean more for you using your own example.

We can discuss your response to the assignment on the Q & A, but you may wish to contact me before then. You will also have personal access by telephone and email once a week.

I’ll do everything I can to support you, but there's no way around it: in order to make this program successful for you, you have to DO THE WORK. Then you will know you’re making progress.

Let me know if you would like toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, Profits Leak Detective

Remember, it’s about them not you.

I cannot imagine that you would walk up to a prospect, and start spruiking your products, without first trying to get some understanding of his business, the issues he may be facing, and whether he had a need for your products or services.

Remember, your products or services are a “solution” – they exist because they solve people’s, or businesses’ problems.

So, to understand the prospects problems, you have to ask questions, to probe and to dig down to the point where you can demonstrate that your offering is the only logical solution.

My friend Rashid Kotwal of Revealed Resources provides an insight into the questions you need to ask in this posting.  You will, as I did, find this useful.

Take it away, Rashid.

Do you sell high end, complex products or services to senior decision makers?

Decision makers want to feel you truly understand them and the outcomes they want. Both on a personal and business level.

You accomplish this is by doing your research to find out what issues they may be facing. Equipped with this you bring new insights and approaches to your prospects. New ways of thinking. You’re collaborative in your approach. Senior buyers want to meet with you as they get real value from the interaction.

Once in front of a prospect, you delve deeply into their issues through questions which uncover needs, both explicit and implicit and the consequences of getting their desired outcomes or not. And then to show how your products/services will serve them.

Given this, there are four broad categories of questions.

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Implications & consequences
  • Needs & payoff

Situation Questions:

Situation questions delve into facts about the buyer’s existing situation. For example, a welding machinery supplier might ask:

  • What sort of welding do you do?
  • How many people do you employ at this location?
  • How many welding machines do you have?

But beware! These are shallow questions. Buyers don’t want to waste their time answering basic questions a few Google searches will uncover. So do your homework!

Problem Questions: We’re starting to dig beneath the surface here.

Remember, no problem equals no sale.

Successful salespeople think in terms of the problems they solve for buyers. They home in on issues, difficulties or dissatisfactions that the buyer is experiencing with the existing situation.

For example:

  • What prevents you from producing a product with lower return rates?
  • Why do you find it hard to recruit skilled people?
  • Is any part of the process costing more than you’d like?

Implication Questions: Digging deeper!

Okay, your buyer acknowledges there’s a problem. But is it worth solving?

What are the consequences if not solved? What benefits would accrue if they did?

Some are obvious while others are not. Your job is to help your prospects articulate these.

For example: “What happens if you can’t hire the right people at the right time?”

They may reply that they can’t service their clients. Which leads to unhappy clients. Leading to losing business and a bad reputation.

Eventually they fold. And of course, the opposite applies if they can find the right people at the right time utilising your services.
 

Having a prospect truly understand the implications of the issue both personally and for their organisation is key to moving a sale forward.

Need/Payoff Questions: Getting to the bottom of the swamp.

You can’t convince someone to buy. They have to convince themselves they want the solution.

Your job is to create the environment where they will by cementing the value and usefulness of your solutions in your prospect’s mind.

How much could they make or save by implementing the solution now. How specifically would an improvement in production quality impact on the bottom line?

Payoff questions are a mirror image of implication questions.

For example, an implication question might be”

“Could the higher return rate of your products add to your costs?”

Whereas a needs payoff question might be:

“If you had lower return rates would that cut costs and improve profitability?”

Wrapping up, to be successful in the sales game you must prove you have a deep understanding of your target market’s issues and be able to bring new insights to them.

That is a prerequisite to even getting to first base.

Wrapping up, one of the best ways to glean market intelligence and be relevant is to ask your current clients why they buy from you!

Our Value Gap Analysis (VGA) method will give you the tools to highlight what’s really important to your clients, where value gaps could exist and how to fix them.

You can read more about this here.

Thanks Rashid.

Take the Next Step

The understanding this approach provides you will greatly improve your responses to Requests for Tender, or for Proposal and Quotations.

How many more times do you want to submit a tender or proposal without getting the results you want, or need?  There are other mistakes you can make that will derail your hard work.

Don’t you just hate it when you put a lot of effort into a bid, and fail.  Whether it be a Request for Tender (RFT), Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP), all require time, effort, and resources, and can then be wasted by a mistake which causes you to lose out.

I’ve have summarised these in “How to Overcome the10 Common Mistakes in Tendering”

If you would like a copy, and there is no cost, go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and type “10 Common Mistakes” into the subject line, and I’ll send it to you.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, except for the articel by Rashid Kotwal