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The Tender trap.

I spent the best part of last week working with an Oil & Gas supply business. At the tail end of 2013 they confided that they were performing poorly in Tender situations. Could we review their Tender processes and perhaps engage a brainstorming session to turn this round? I would like to think that by the close of business on Friday they were better prepared, more focussed on the key values of the potential Client and perhaps importantly ready to walk away from the “wrong” opportunities. Recently I’ve come across quite a few Companies who seem to Tender for everything and spend far too many hours on unsuccessful pitches. It’s important to take a commercial view on Tendering, as too many firms have burnt too much cash pursuing opportunities they have little chance of winning.

There are 5 key points I keep front of mind when tendering

1. Recognise and take advantage of the “real” opportunities
2. Avoid those where you have little or no chance of winning
3. Construct a proposal that gives you a real advantage
4. Remember that cost is not necessarily “king”. Listen to the Client!
5. Ensure your Tender reflects the Key Values of the Client.

It’s always critical to do the necessary preparatory work.

• Obtain/circulate information on the opportunity
• Undertake external research (eg: website, internal research dept, etc)
• Obtain firm information for track record/history and/or similar/relevant clients/sectors/industries/business types
• Arrange go/no go discussion with potential lead partner
• Is the opportunity with an existing client? If not, is it a known or targeted contact? If not, is it a ‘cold’ opportunity?
• Is there any potential conflict?
• What work is being tendered? Can you ‘do’ it ….and profitably?
• Who should do it? Do the Firm have the capacity to do it? Do you have the skills to tender? Who is the ‘best’ Lead Partner? Are key staff available and skilled to provide time and input into the formation of the tender submission?
• What are the key tender requirements and the evaluation criteria? How do you ‘score’ against them?
• What is the cost of tendering? Are there other costs/implications? What are the realistic prospects of success? Does the firm have sufficient ‘credibility’ (skills, location, relevant experience, people, etc)?

Try to understand what the client wants to get out of the Tender. Where can your Firm deliver and potentially over deliver. Repeat business is consistently achieved when a firm over delivers or superpleases clients.

In last weeks instance I suggested pulling all potential participants together to go over these points and a general refresh of “Tendering” at a fairly basic level to cover areas such as RFP’s (request for proposal), EOI, (Expression Of interest), PQQ (Pre qualification questionnaire), ITT (Invitation to tender) and finally the presentation itself. Importantly once a Tender opportunity has crystallised, irrespective of result, always gather as many of the Tender team together and debrief. What went well, what didn’t. What can you do better next time.

Back to my old mantra.. Plan, Do, Review.


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