Understand Why Governments Buy….And How to Take advantage of That!
If you have attended one of my “Tendering Essentials” workshops, a Tendering Webinar I’ve given, or one of my Te
nderWins online courses, you will know that I seek to get you to take a different view of tenders.
There’s a good reason for that. Many find completing government tenders a bureaucratic burden. I’ve heard all the complaints over the years:
- It’s too complex,
- It’s too bureaucratic,
- Everything takes too long,
- It’s biased,
- Tender forms are repetitive,
- Small businesses can’t win, big business has an unfair advantage,
- The requirements aren’t always clear, it’s confusing
- It’s too demanding, it’s too costly
On and on and on!
So what is the Underlying Problem?
The underlying problem is usually the requirement for COMPLIANCE. That is where the complexity, detail and time comes in. Compliance with the Request for Tender (RFT) specifications, compliance with the Conditions of Tender, compliance with the Conditions of Contract
Governments can be rigorous in requiring compliance with their (ever increasing) policies with which you must comply – a definite pain in the posterior.
There seems to be an almost instinctive, sub-conscious reaction to this drudgery – how to avoid it? People tend to hurry through their Response with as little thought as possible. They seek to MINIMISE the time, content and effort required. Just get it done and out of the road, so you can get on with doing what you do!
The result is a boring document almost indistinguishable from the competition. Another match in a matchbox.
The Assessors are scarcely likely to sit up and take notice of a response that is the antithesis of “engaging and compelling”.
And that is why I teach that in responding, you need to take an alternative view. Think of the Assessors & all those submissions in front of them – all boring! Your challenge is to capture their attention, hold it, & then convince them that your offering is the only logical choice.
Compliance merely gets you through the starting gate. To win the job you have to be the best on the day. The challenge is to draft a persuasive tender or proposal, not just a compliant one.
Is there an Alternative Way of Looking at This?
But what if you looked at that tender response in another way, not as a bureaucratic compliance burden, but a Sales Tool to be used for your advantage? If you were making a sales pitch to a prospective customer, you would be going all out, with all the evidence, demonstrated capability and capacity, and proof you could do the job, that you were the only logical choice.
If you were pitching for a sale, I’m sure you would make every effort to present a solid case that removes all doubts the buyer may have, eliminates the risk in their minds, leaves the prospect with one clear choice…. you!
I have found, dealing with countless clients over the years, that changing the viewpoint of the tenderer completely changes the way they approach. their response
But there is an additional twist to this approach, one that will further change the way you view your approach to drafting a persuasive and compelling response.
To do that, you first need to understand why governments call tenders in the first place. Of course, it is not just governments; businesses of all sizes request proposals or quotations, but I’ll refer to government throughout this posting, because they are the most ridged and complex for reasons I’ll address shortly.
But the principles apply to Requests for Proposals (RFP) and requests for Quotation (RFQ) from a broad range of potential customers, and what you learn can be profitably applied to these.
An RFT is usually an open invitation for suppliers to respond to a defined need as opposed to a request being sent to selected potential suppliers. An RFP, which, since public money is not involved, typically has a less rigid structure.
Governments and other potential clients call for tenders or quotations to meet a need, to solve a problem. The need or problem may be:
- Immediate – an unexpected event, often a tragedy or weather event
- long term – such as infrastructure
- precautionary - the result of a Gap Analysis – future obligations vs current capability
“No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have.” Seth Godin
The procurement process may be required and determined in detail by law to ensure that competition for the use of public funds is open, fair and free, i.e. impartial.
Just to avoid rejection in the first cut, a tender must be compliant and answer every single requirement. To go on to win, it must also be competitive and persuasive
It must show, clearly and persuasively, your difference, why you rather than the competition should get the contract. To win, you must submit a tender which is the best on the day.
You will have an advantage if you address their problem right up front, rather than talk about how good you are, which so many people do. Assessors always feel more comfortable with respondents who recognize the buyer’s problem and what they are seeking to achieve.
You will score lots of points by showing you understand their objectives, and demonstrate your experience in handling projects of a similar scope, value and size.
And this is where that additional twist comes in
You’re solving, no selling. Be much more explicit in your response, and show just HOW you will solve their problem, and back that up with Proof that you will – testimonials that support your solution.
Craft a Value Proposition that clearly describes how you can solve the client’s problem in the most competitive and efficient way.
The most compelling value propositions are those that address the high-priority concerns of the agency, and solve their problem.
Clear & concise, promise quantifiable outcomes – i.e. they solve the problem - clearly distinguish the value of your product or service, and provide a reason or incentive for acting right away.
Develop a well-rounded process to enable you submit compelling, persuasive tenders that demonstrate you will solve their problem. You will win more tenders, and to do so without the time pressures you currently are subject to, and remove the stress from submitting fully compliant tenders on time.
Does your Value Proposition Solve the Problem?
There’s nothing like an outside view of your Value Proposition?
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.
Or buy "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.