How to write a winning tender proposal

In this article we would like to share a few tips on how to write a tender proposal that is poised for success. If you haven’t already, do read our blog on the 5 steps for successful tendering as it sets the stage for a process that maximizes your chances of winning tenders.

These pointers are based on our experience on what has worked well. Feel free to adapt and modify them to your own style and needs. So here goes, the top tips for writing tender bids:

  1. Always have a proposal: Submitting marketing brochures, price lists and compliance tables are important, but they are not proposals. Regardless of the value of the tender, always submit a proposal that makes it easier for the evaluating team to put your bid up for approval. A technique we use when preparing proposals is called “Answer the Tender”.
  2. Answer the Tender: This technique ensures that your proposal is written for maximum impact, and basically seeks to give the evaluation team the confidence that you have thought through their requirements and have a good idea of what needs to be done to successfully deliver and support the project. For every single requirement, you need to be able to answer:
    • How - How do you intend to meet this requirement? You need not spell this out for every single requirement since the length of the proposal is always going to be a constraint and not every clause holds equal weight in terms of importance. Instead look for the clauses that are specific to the tender and focus on them, especially if you can differentiate from the competition. As an example of what not to focus on: many tenders have boilerplate clauses for support and warranty requirements that probably were not written by the evaluation team. They probably would not focus too much attention on these clauses, other than to check that the proposal complies with those clauses.
    • Who – Who are the people needed to meet these requirements? These should be consolidated into a project organization chart.
    • When – When can you meet these requirement? These should be consolidated into your proposed schedule.
  3. Value Proposition: Every tender has at least 1 requirement that carries significant weight. Identify this key factor and differentiate yourself from the competition with respect to this requirement.
  4. Executive Summary: Assume your reader has a 3-minute attention span. Now write a 1 page summary of your proposal that can be read in those 3 minutes. It should include your value proposition, differentiating points, your price and value, and how you can meet all requirements
  5. The Basics: Finally, we close out the article covering a few basic things to look out for:
    • Concise - Get your message across in as little words as possible. As a guide, for project values up to $300,000, keep it to about 1-2 pages per $10,000 of tender value.
    • Price breakdown and summary - Make it easy for the buyer to understand what your total project price is and what the components are. In tenders with many options or tiered pricings, it sometimes helps to include some calculation examples in your pricing table.
    • Compliance table - Remember to submit this table and comply with every requirement. If you cannot comply with everything, don’t bid.
    • Required materials - Read the Instructions to Tenderers a few times and make a checklist of everything that is required as part of the submission. Read through the requirements and also note each clause that states you have to submit something as part of the tender submission. Before you submit your proposal, run through this checklist and ensure that everything that is required is in your proposal. Being meticulous here will prevent you from an automatic disqualification for not including information that is required.
    • Spell Check and Grammar - Ensure your message and value proposition can get across to the evaluation team without language getting in the way.

And there you go, a few simple things to watch out for when preparing your bids. We hope this clarifies what needs to go into your proposal, and just as important, what should not be included. Share your thoughts with us with a comment below or via our contact form. Happy Tendering!