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.

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© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon,

29 November, 2019

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