How to write tenders
Learning how to write tenders can be a painful process.
Tender writing is a form of prose like no other. It requires slavish attention to detail. It also demands a unique ability to convert what most of us see as intuitive skills, such as good copywriting or editing, into objective processes which can be appraised and assessed by those judging the tender.
In this sense, the word ‘tender’ is a bit of a misnomer. They are not tender. They are often particularly cruel and brutal exercises. Those taking part expend enormous amounts of effort and energy (and sometimes hard cash) to prepare lengthy documents which are then appraised, analysed and jettisoned for what most of us would see as bureaucratic and nonsensical reasons.
Still, there’s no point moaning. Rules are rules, and they are the same for everyone. They are laid out to ensure that the process of procuring new services is fair, free and open to everyone.
Meet the criteria
To succeed with tenders (especially public sector ones) you need to get yourself into the right mindset. Tender writing is not an exercise where the aim is to convince the reader that you are the best organisation (or person) to fulfil the contract. It’s often more a case of ensuring that your tender meets all the necessary criteria, as stated in the tender.
And there’s a big difference.
In some ways tenders are like exams. It’s absolutely crucial that you always read the questions, then read them again to make sure you are certain you know what they’re asking.
Administrative and procedural answers are just as important as the financial ‘offer’ you provide, and the skills and credentials you put forward.
Follow the instructions
Years ago we lost a tender because we sent it in by registered post and we put our details on the ‘senders’ sticker on the back of the envelope. The envelope was duly returned to us, tender disqualified and unread with an explanation that the details specification said that no company marks or details were allowed on the outside envelope.
We haven’t made the same mistake again.
The tender itself is not the normal display of your business credentials, skills or experience. Simply using your normal marketing text gets you nowhere.
Tenders need to be written in a really clear and methodical way, answering each point as fully as possible.
Clear and precise language
Over-elaborate writing styles should be put to one side. Instead, clear and precise language needs to be used, ensuring that facts, figures and other tangible information which can be ‘scored’ come to the fore.
We’ve won a few tenders in our time. We like to think it’s because of our outstanding skill, experience and customer service. However, we also know that the way we’ve written up those attributes to meet the given criteria is just as likely to have been the reason for our success.
For help writing your tenders click here, or call Adam Woolf on 01788 335284.