Here's a Question
Twice in the last twelve months I have been asked to assist clients write a tender proposal for a requirement that, ostensibly, wasn’t particularly different from the contract they held – except for a couple of factors.
Firstly – why not “particularly different”? Both companies had been delivering on their particular contract for twenty years. Now nobody gets a twenty-year contract! Twenty years in the one contract meant the business had repeatedly won whenever the contract was retendered.
They hadn’t asked for assistance before, to the best of my knowledge. And certainly not from me.
So what was different?
There were two factors.
The first is why people ask for assistance in putting together a compelling tender response. There are three good reasons, and they are:
- People who would like to crack the government market, but don’t know how to do so.
- People who continually tender for these contracts, but don’t win many.
- People who can’t afford to lose a government contract which underpins their business.
On both occasions my clients obviously fell into the third category.
But then there is the second reason - Tendering is one of those things in which businesses have to keep improving, because the competition is also looking to continually get better, and times are getting tougher, despite the opportunities.
And government processes change. What worked once, or twice or more, won’t necessarily when both the client’s requirements and assessment processes change.
Businesses shouldn’t leave preparation until they have a tender opportunity in front of them. Tender turnaround times are becoming increasingly truncated. Firms can have as little as 10 days to complete a response, and usually no more than three to four.
You cannot afford to start your response late! Most tender responses need three rounds of drafting and editing before they are of a high enough quality to be truly competitive, even if the business has good tendering systems in place.
Both clients recognized this, and contacted me well before the Request For Tender was released. They were experienced, and well-knew what drafting a winning response entailed.
One of the challenging issues, and a frustrating issue for me, is that people in the first two categories, perhaps because of their inexperience, tend to leave their response, and getting help, until the last minute.
And that makes developing a compelling, persuasive response all the more difficult.
So let’s move onto why these clients believed it was so important to get assistance on a contract where logic and history would suggest they should be the market leader?
Do Government Contracts have a place in your business strategy?
Consider this - Public tender volumes in Australia grew 12% last year and 2019 will be another year of opportunity. And there are good reasons for small and medium businesses to be interested in government contracts, such as:
- Stability/continuity of work. While many government contracts are for one-off supply, many others are for regular supply over a 2 – 3 year period;
- Assured payment - although payment may take up to 30 days, it is still assured.
- Less risk - Government contracts spread commercial risk
- Added Value - Reliable clients add value to your business
Why take the risk, and lose an important foundation stone to their business? I find it interesting that my clients are the ones looking ahead. They recognized all of these factors.
These factors are similarly important, or should be, to those in the other two categories; those unable to win, and the wannabe’s.
Businesses in these categories need to be looking ahead, but I find them much less likely to step up and prepare themselves.
While the concept of tendering may seem daunting at first, it can be easily tackled by having a plan of ‘attack'. When becoming involved in a tendering process, it is important to understand your business' suitability for the project; whether your business' current situation will allow for you to tender, as well as your ability to manage the contract if you are successful in winning the tender. By understanding these points and ensuring you can demonstrate that you are able to meet the criteria and offer a competitive bid, you will increase your chances of success.
Remember, constant learning and improvement are the key to success. Successful government contracts can reposition your business in the in the eyes of your commercial marketplace.
Do you have a growth strategy that includes government contracts?
I’ve written further on this subject in “It’s too late by the time the tender comes out!”
So many of you told me when I researched this issue for my online course that being in this situation has led them to winning few contracts, while causing them great stress and unnecessary demands on their time.
Yet when I asked if they were interested in a solution, I was told “Now is not the right time.”
The right time is evidently when a tender of interest is called, one that really matches their capability, but of course, not being prepared means the same old, same old cycle occurs. It’s too late to improve!
There is a Solution
Do you want to continue down that path – the recurring problem of a last-minute rush to get your response finished, and in on time, with all its inevitable stress and strain, and probable mistakes?
Have you ever been in the situation where you have won a tender, and your first thought is “What did I miss?” I know I used to.
Picture the potential; you are prepared and ready, you have all the requisite building blocks that could be required for the tenders of interest. You have the tools to develop a striking value proposition for each request, and you have practised writing a compliant, compelling and persuasive response.
You know how to put together a stand out presentation, one that will not have the Assessor’s eyes glazing over.
And when you submit, you have full confidence in your response, both in terms of your proposed program, and your price! What a relief!
Is that important to you? And why?
Would you like to have a chat at some stage, either by phone or online to discuss your issues and experience? I’d be interested in finding out more about both, and whether my solution might suit you.
And if you would like to understand more on my approach to tendering you might like to download my freebie – “How to Overcome the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Tendering”.
© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon