How to write a successful tender response

  • By John Chudleigh
  • 29 Jul, 2016

Tender bid  tips

Responding to a tender can be an intimidating experience. Often the language and terminology is obtuse, requirements appear to go way beyond the apparent immediate needs of the contract and the detail required seems obsessive. Contracts are won, and lost, on the quality of the responses submitted and it’s important to remember that this is your main, and sometimes only, opportunity to:
• Introduce your business
• Explain your approach and solutions to the tender’s needs
• Stand out from the competition.

So, well before you start your response, familiarise yourself with the tender documentation, and ensure that:
• You really want to bid for this contract (you can deliver it, it is not too risky or costly)
• You can meet the deadlines for submission of information
• You have the resources you need, including staff, to be able to write the response

Putting together a winning response will take dedicated time and resources. To help you get an idea of how much time and what resources will be needed, it is good practice to run the response process as a project:

Assign a response leader(project manager) – someone who will own the response, who has the authority to ensure that resources are available and the leadership to see that timescales are met. They will also know who the subject matter experts are in the organisation to go to for any necessary, detailed information.

Create a plan,showing what tasks need to be undertaken, by whom and when they are required. The value of reviewing the response before it is finalised cannot be underestimated, so any plan should include enough time to review one or more drafts to ensure that the tender response is the best that it can be. Also, take into account the length of time it will take to lodge the response. Where hard copies are requested, the printing, binding and delivery of the finished response document will need to be taken into consideration.

Remember to take in to account the time required to include documentation or information from third parties. Often the response will need input or evidence from your insurance company, accountant and company solicitor. You may also need to submit testimonials or references from existing clients. As a rule, any input required that is outside your direct control will always take much longer than expected, so it pays to get these underway early in the response process. When obtaining information from third parties, always provide a clear deadline for when you would like this information to be provided and include these delivery milestones in your plan.

Demonstrate how and why you are best placed to win the tender – you will need to articulate your company’s experience and its ability to deliver and the most compelling approach is through the use of case studies or real-life examples. Try and use recent case studies, but don’t be afraid of using examples from solutions that are very different to that which you are tendering for, particularly if the business results reflect those which you’d expect to achieve if you win this tender.

The quality of the writingused in the response will be critical to its success. Try and express your response using simple and compelling language; responses will generally be evaluated and marked against a scorecard and you must communicate your compliance and ability to deliver (and provide value) against each and every question. Note the evaluation criteria and relative weighting/ranking of individual questions, giving particular attention to areas of higher weightings/rankings. There will inevitably be some duplication in your answers to a number of questions – remember that different sections of the response may go to different departments, so tailor every answer to the question asked.
Address each question as if your capabilities, strengths, skills and resources are unknown to the evaluator, describe your methodologies and examples in detail and show how your business capabilities are appropriate for this job. Always try to reflect the language and terminology used in the tender documents and to limit your use of jargon. The writing style should also be persuasive and business-like without overstating your capacity or capability. The sentences need to be positive, giving confidence that you will provide the best product or service; use words such as ‘will’ and ‘can’ to reinforce this. Keep sentences short and to the point.

The layout and designof your document is an important consideration when developing your tender response. For some tenders, this is not possible as the tender requirements stipulate that an application form or electronic format is to be used. However, in instances where this is not restricted, consider the design of the document and alternate ways in which information can be conveyed.

Where possible (within the constraints of the format stipulated), consider including illustrations, be they charts or graphs or tables and diagrams. Including pictures of the team who will be delivering the service or photographs of your products will also help your response stand out.

Review:Before lodging your response, check that you have met all of the tender requirements and try to have you response reviewed thoroughly by two or three individuals, who should be urged to look for everything from punctuation and grammatical errors to the accuracy and realism of any figures provided, such as delivery timelines, pricing, and resourcing. Simple mistakes in any of these areas can have a large impact on how your business is perceived during the evaluation process and, in some cases, dramatically affect the competitiveness of your bid.

Finally, it’s important to remember that tendering is not purely price driven. You must demonstrate a solution that is economically advantageous to the buyer and underline your ability to service the requirements efficiently and effectively. A response that can demonstrate capability to deliver the service at a cost-effective rate will usually triumph over a cheaper supplier who has not demonstrated clear capability or value for money.

Author: Sean Jacob

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 The full details of these and registration links are available at:

 Topics already covered by recent open lectures were ‘Opening Transatlantic Markets’ and ‘After Brexit: is the EEA an option for the UK?’ Details of some conference materials are available to download at:

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 *Already presented.

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Read the full article by Antony Savvas at:

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