I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners (lets call these groups – Tony) that are full of stars in their eyes and fire in their bellies.
Tony has discovered the cure for cancer in his field and knows he is going to make a difference in the world. He is motivated and inspired by what will be – his future and the future of his children are shining brightly.
Having worked all his life for other companies, Tony has learnt his craft from the bottom up. He knows his business will grow and have been able to keep his clients happy. He is seen as an industry expert by his clients and his competitors.
Since starting the business, Tony has attracted all the right people and the momentum of his business is just right. The future looks bright.
One day Tony goes to see a long time client and during the discussion hears this word “Tender”. Tony has heard about tenders but isn’t really sure what they are all about. But the client doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal. The client said, “Tony just read the tender and answer the questions – its all good. We have a new person in procurement so just ticking the boxes”
“Of Course, I can do that for you” said Tony
The tender documents are received by Tony – there are numerous documents. Some of the documents, Tony isn’t sure what they are or why they have been given to him. So he skips over some of the detail. He is very busy and his client said “Just ticking boxes”.
Tony finds the document that he needs to respond to. So concentrates on that one. He writes down everything that he can think of.
There were a few questions that Tony didn’t really understand, so he put in a few words that he thought would be ok.
The client knows him and what his company can do.
He has been providing products & services to this client for a few years.
He submits the tender on time and is very pleased with himself.
A few weeks go by and he gets a call from his client. “Look Tony, we had to go with someone else”
Tony is startled after all – this tender was “Just to tick a few boxes”
What Tony didn’t know was that his client wasn’t the decision maker. The procurement team decided on which companies to recommend to management. They take their jobs VERY seriously.
Their process is not “Just to tick a few boxes” – they needed to make sure their company gets a great deal and that the vendor was going to fix their problems.
Tony also didn’t think that those questions he skipped over – were the questions that were important to the procurement department. They were the questions that if he had answered properly would have scored his tender very highly.
A tender document isn’t just a form to fill out and get on with your life. It’s documentation that can help your company be successful or not. It’s documentation that can sway a client or prospect for you or not.
I look at a tender response in the same way as what a teacher would look at an exam paper. Is the question answered in a way that will benefit the client – or not. Have you answered the question in a way that the reviewer (teacher) would understand it? Have you made sure that each answer is easy to find by your client?
If you have been in business for many years or just starting out.
Tenders are not for the faint hearted. There are many rules, both written and unwritten that can be traps. Those traps can be the difference between the Win phone call or Lost email.
What were Tony’s tender mistakes?
What advice would you give to Tony for future tender opportunities?