10 traits that make for a terrible tender


The world of tendering for work can be tricky, time-consuming and tedious. For many businesses though, tenders are the backbone of their potential income – making them an unavoidable part of day-to-day duties.

If you’re churning out business tenders and still waiting for the phone to call, it might be time to revisit your process.

Here are 10 signs that your tenders are, well, perhaps not so great…

  1. Illogic never prevails

If your tender jumps from section A to B to C, then back to B, then jumps to D before going back to A again, you’re just going to confuse and irritate the person on the receiving end. Put your document together in an easy-to-understand order that follows the format or structure requested by procurer.

  1. Irrelevant referees

Don’t include referees from jobs or sectors that are completely irrelevant to the job you’re tendering for. It doesn’t tell the recipient much in terms of how it relates to them, and it may lead them to believe you’re lacking in relevant experience.

  1. Spelling and grammar faux pas

Poor spelling and grammar can look unprofessional, careless and rookie, reflecting badly on your business. After you or someone else in your business has written a tender, always pass it to someone with a fresh pair of eyes to give it a good proofread.

  1. Secret conditions

If there are certain conditions that’ll affect the price you’ve given, state them. Don’t leave any ambiguity in your tender. By doing this, you’ll also run the risk of annoying the recipient if they find out there’s a price hike at a later date.

  1. Baffling your buyer

You might know what the technical jargon in your tender means, but will the recipient? Don’t use long, complicated words for the sake of it, and write your tender with the end person at the forefront of your mind.

  1. Unengaging application

Have you simply written your tender using a business-wide mock-up that’s used day in, day out? A generic ‘cut and paste’ tender is not a good tender. Make sure you pull out all the stops to personalise your tender to the business and job you’re bidding for.

  1. Refusal to research

If, for whatever reason, you decide not to give the research element of your tender enough credit – around the client or work being bid for, for exmaple, you’re likely to fall short when it comes to winning the bid. Thorough research will show the recipient you’ve put the time in to get to know them, which comes hand-in-hand with our above point – engaging with the end reader.

  1. Unaddressed requirements

Not only will missing information leave the recipient with questions, but it’ll make your business look as though it hasn’t read the proposal properly which will likely look unprofessional.

To avoid missing information, make sure you read over the requirements a couple of times and make a thorough checklist of what needs to be included, and refer to your list when writing your tender.

  1. No back-up

If you’re big-ing yourself up (like you should be), make sure you support your claims. You could do this by including case studies, testimonials, references, awards or accreditations, for example. We’re not saying the recipient won’t necessarily believe what you’re saying, but they’ll give your tender a lot more authority and strength.

  1. No oomph

Are you actually selling yourself? The job of a tender is to get the recipient to choose you over a competitor – to do that, you need to sound a cut above the rest. Now, we’re not suggesting you go over the top and come across smug, but remember to explain why what your company offers is a benefit to them.

For example, instead of saying your business has x, y or z accreditations and stopping there, expand on the accreditations and explain that they allow you to offer x, y and z benefits.

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