Frequently Asked Questions
Pricing requirements can be tricky to navigate, especially if they’re unrealistic.
How can you put in a conforming tender without committing to providing service for a price that will cost your company money?
First off, you need to make sure you put in a conforming bid. No matter how unrealistic the Principal’s expectations are, you need to meet their requirements. The way to navigate this without incurring a loss, is to include very detailed pricing assumptions. So price up the scope based on their requirements, and deliver a low, conforming price. Then add the ‘conditions’ upon which you could meet them (ie ‘pricing subject to xx stages of deliveries’, ‘pricing subject xxx access readily made available within 1 week of delivery’, ‘pricing subject to building access availability at least 7 days prior to delivery’, etc).
This way, you can get a conforming bid through and (hopefully) an invitation to the negotiating table, where you can further educate your audience and discuss an appropriate solution.
I was speaking with a client earlier this week about a few bid opportunities that sort of fit their services scope, but not entirely. Deciding which RFT/RFPs to respond to is a common challenge for small and medium sized businesses.
While a growing business doesn’t want to waste time and resources on an unwinnable bid, they also don’t want to miss opportunities to win valuable contracts. So is it worth going after a contract with a scope that may or may not match your services?
My answer is that it depends on a couple of factors. For my client last week, I suggested that we download all the tender documents and get into the fine print rather than just looking at the overview of the notice.
In my view, the decision really comes down to two things.
1. What is the key driver of the Principal?
Sometimes the procurement documents will steer a particular solution to a problem, simply because they don’t realise that there are any other options. Because this is the way they have always done it, other possible solutions to the problem don’t occur to them. If this is the case, you might have a chance to sway them.
Before you get to work, however, it’s important to check the tender conditions. This brings me to the second deciding factor.
2. Do they allow a non-compliant bid?
Do they allow a non-compliant bid? If not, would your company be able to provide a compliant bid, or is their scope so heavily directed to the expected solution that your bid would be non-compliant? If there’s a chance that you can submit a complaint bid, can you partner with someone to enhance the offering, meet the scope, and create a win-win that is outside the square of their current thinking?
Talking it over with an outside consultant who can help you go over the factors and determine your chance of winning is always a good idea before making a final decision.
We get this a lot, particularly from smaller businesses who are not accustomed to putting together bids on a regular basis. The best way to illustrate value is to help your audience understand your experience, through evidence. While you can tell the audience about your expertise and qualifications, it’s much better to show and tell.
When it comes to choosing what evidence to include in your tender response, there are lots of options to choose from. While most people’s first thought is figures and statistics, there’s a lot more to illustrating value than just quoting a set of numbers. There are eight main types of evidence useful for bidding, which I’ve summarised below:
Case Study: Use a case study to show that you have experience successfully providing similar services to similar companies.
Quote or Testimonial: Quotes prove that clients were not only satisfied with the service you provided, but pleased enough to go on record to talk about the quality of your service.
Referrals: Regardless of whether the company contacts your referees, offering the contact details of clients gives your prospect confidence by showing that you have a good relationship with your clients.
Initial consultation: Free advice and consultations can give you an opportunity to prove your value to the prospective client. Use this method with caution, and be careful not to give away too much for free.
Client list: In addition to referees, providing a list of clients and the services your company provides can prove that you have a range of experience and that your business is well-established.
CVs: CVs for the key personnel that would be involved with the project adds a personal touch and assures the prospective client that your staff are experienced and qualified to provide the services required.
Awards: A well-placed and relevant award can back up your statements and prove that third parties recognise the quality of your company’s work. Don’t be a bragger, but do use awards when appropriate.
Statistics & Data: While statistics aren’t the be all and end all of evidence, including percentages of satisfied clients, number of successful implementations or attention/retention rates, to name a few examples, can be persuasive ways to demonstrate what you are saying.
Australian Industry Participation (AIP) policies and programmes encourage full, fair and reasonable opportunity for Australian industry to compete for work in major public and private projects in Australia.
Commonwealth, state and territory industry ministers signed the Australian Industry Participation National Framework in April 2001. The National Framework encourages governments to adopt a consistent national approach to maximise Australian industry participation in major projects in Australia and overseas. Each jurisdiction has its own policies aimed at encouraging Australian industry participation in public and private projects. (Source: DIIS)
If you’re asked to provide an industry participation plan, check the relevant government website for guidelines or a template document to fill out (the requirements are subject to change, so always make sure you’re following the latest directives).
You will be required to breakdown the supply chain and expenditure of your service or product, and attribute costs to the region of origin.
Tender win rates can be significantly increased by bidding for less and focusing resources on the best opportunities. Introduce a bid qualification process to ensure your assign bidding resources to the best opportunities.
There are a range of online portals you can use to monitor the competitive environment. Try visiting one of the following, or get in touch with PitchThis who will undertake monitoring across at least 3 of these channels for you:
Or sign up for our Tender Monitoring package in conjunction with TenderSearch here.
Does your organisation still implement a shotgun approach and bid for everything? Do any of these statements sound familiar?
“We have to bid, its strategic”, “We were invited, we’re in with a chance”, or “We probably won’t win, but we need to put forward a bid”
Your bid team and resources are limited. And if they are anything like the hundreds of bid team members we’ve worked with – they are probably already overloaded with work. Every time you ask a bid team member to take on additional bids, you are asking them to give up their personal time (something most bid team members are already doing) or to compromise on quality (making them feel like they are not doing their best work). [Read More]
You should be doing anything and everything you can to make the job of the assessment panel easier. Even if you feel the documents are repetitive or questions inaccurate, do not change the RFT in any way.
What you can do is submit a formal clarification question in line with the tender conditions, by the due date, asking the principal to clarify what they mean by a particular question.
If you don’t have all of the documentation requested of the procurement process, the first thing to do is make sure you are legally compliant. There are safety compliance requirements for every business, and if you’re not meeting them, losing a pitch is the least of your problems.
Next, get on the phone and see if you can find a consultant to help you get organised (PitchThis can assist with this if required). If you can start the ball rolling, you might be able to rectify the situation by explaining in the tender that you are in the process of developing your safety systems. But be warned, you should only say this if it is true!
The procurement team will ask for the evidence at the next stage of the process and you will need to be able to produce it then.
Most companies with a mature bid process will implement several review processes throughout the course of the bid development phase. The two most important reviews occur at bid story board phase – where you plan out your response to each question and have an independent reviewer take a fresh eyes approach to the plan. They will help you to gauge whether your planned approach actually provides the right level of detail to illustrate your solution, and if it is appropriately aligned with the question.
The next crucial document review is conducted once a full draft has been completed. Often this is called a red team review, and it ensures an independent reviewer sites the response to questions in their full first draft, complete with diagrams and illustrations, and in conjunction with the other elements of the response. This review should pick up on any anomalies between responses (this is important if they have been written by separate teams or authors) and ensure that the solution concept is clear.