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How to succeed
BEFORE YOU RESPOND YOU MUST ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: “CAN I WIN?” Below you'll find some good questions to ask your self.
- If you can win what effect will it have on your business? Do you have the resources to do the job properly? Do you have the cash flow to survive until you get paid? What will happen to your existing clients if you concentrate on this new contract? You may decide not to bid.
- Tell them you have received the tender and you intend bidding. (Also tell if you are not as they may have a problem with the specification).
- File the reply slip in a safe place.
- Note all the deadlines and work towards a shorter one. There will always be something you need to do at the end. You will have a limited period in which to ask questions.
- Get your team together as early as possible to respond. A tender takes 3 weeks on average plus you have your existing clients to serve at the same time.
- If there is a phone number then it is an invitation to ring. Use it to establish a relationship and then find out more information. Make sure you are going in the right direction by asking. If you ask a technical question then the reply is usually shared with all the other bidders so be careful how you ask it.
- Go through the specification with a fine tooth comb. Make sure you know what they want. Does the cost include Value Added Tax (VAT)? What are the penalties for late delivery? What are the terms and conditions? Will you have to take on staff from the existing supplier? If you are not sure then ring them.
- Your response should be concise. In each section start of by stating whether you comply or not. “We comply. We will….” If you do not comply then explain how you can meet their needs. For example “Do you have ISO9001?” Response:” We do not comply. However, we are currently working towards this accreditation and expect it to be in force before the year end”.
- Find out as much as possible about the public body. Visit their website and make sure you know their policies and values. Match them where you can. The public body make their decision based on 4 or 5 factors and you will usually be told how much weight they give to each of these factors. You must tailor your response accordingly.
- Know your competitors and work out the response they are likely to make. Use TED to find out what other contracts your competitors have won in the public sector as it may give you a good clue as to their pricing and methods.
- Plan your response carefully and include charts diagrams and colour pictures where you can. Do not include sales brochures or anything that is not asked for. Keep it simple. The public body will be going through lots of responses and do not want to read waffle. If you are in doubt then leave it out.
- If they say use Microsoft Word Arial font 11 then use it. If they need 5 copies and a CD then make sure you comply or it will all be returned to you.
- Once your response is prepared ask someone who knows nothing about the tender to review it. Even if they just read the executive summary. A fresh pair of eyes may spot something you haven’t.
- When returning the document make sure you e-mail it before the deadline. If it is going to another part of the EU they may be in a different time zone! If you have to send the response in an envelope then deliver it yourself if you can. If you can’t, then make sure you use the reply slip provided and make sure your company name is not on the envelope anywhere (including the franking mark). If a courier takes it make sure they know the deadline (tell them an earlier time) and ask them not to put your company name on the envelope.
- If you are late by one minute your hard work will be sent back to you. If your company name is on the envelope then your work will be returned to you.
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