Feature articles

26 November 2020

What to do if you don’t win a pest management tender

BUSINESS | PPC101 DECEMBER 2020

Facing rejection can be tough, especially when you’ve put a lot of time and effort into bidding for a tender. Expert tender writer Robert Harris, of Harris Associates, provides tips on how to improve your tender submissions based on your previous failed submissions.

What to do if you dont win a pest management tender BPCA

You’ve worked your socks off to get a bid completed, confident that you totally mastered it after dedicating hours to your submission...

But the scores are finally in and you didn’t get the tender. What’s going on?

There could be many reasons you didn’t win the bid:

  • An ‘out of date’ answer
  • Giving too little detail
  • Not paying enough attention to the response needed

Not fully understanding what the client wanted to hear.

As a professional tender writer, occasionally I scratch my head when I see the scores given. So where do you go when you lose a bid?

The golden rules in these circumstances are Check – Enquire – Review – Learn.

Check

Read the original question, then read your response. Sometimes it hits you like a wet sponge on a February morning, that you’ve made assumptions and totally misread
the question.

Now, in the cold light of day, the response you should have given is suddenly clear. This is positive. We learn more from our mistakes than we do by getting things right by accident.
Sometimes a client will give you automatic feedback, giving some broad comments. They can be something like ‘the winning bid outlined the process very clearly, including processes x, y and z’.

Sometimes it’s very general to your bid eg ‘your response to question 1 needed a fuller explanation’.

Often this feedback tells you nothing. If you haven’t had clear guidance on where you went wrong, follow the next steps.

Enquire

As early as you can, make a list of questions and thoughts. The key is to get in touch quickly. The procurement team for the tender will still be fresh and be able to give value to your enquiry.

Ask them again in six weeks and their memory of which bidder you are or what they thought when they marked your bid will totally rely on notes and scribbled comments.
Be polite and, unless you have a need to challenge the decision, don’t come across as negative. And under no circumstances should you be aggressive.

You want them to remember your company on good terms, as there’s always the chance they’ll have another tender in the future that you can bid on. It’s okay to keep chasing a client for feedback, but keep contact positive where you can.

Review

Take the feedback, and look at it in context of the original question and your original response.

Does it fit? Was your response too focused in one area (eg too operational and not enough on the managerial side) or did you misread it?

This review stage is like gold dust! It’s where you learn how to speak to them in the language they want to hear.

You’re trying to sell them your service so they need to be comfortable with what they read.

Remember, these procurement teams know nothing about your industry. They bought pens two months ago, workwear and PPE last month, now they are buying pest control.

The technical side of this industry is often way above their heads, so be careful not to lose them. Keep submissions clear enough for people to understand, but technical enough to showcase your professionalism.

Sometimes, after feedback, I’ve taken the time to rewrite the submission so that I can be comfortable knowing how I would complete it if the same tender came up again. It will build your skills, trust me on this!

Learn

Now you understand what the client wants, you know the sort of thing that needs to go into a similar question in future.

Ironically, you can learn lots from multiple failures, where feedback from clients gives you an insight of what organisations want to see in a bid, and you end up having a clearer understanding of what is needed.

Sometimes people revisit a file of typical ‘model answers’ for bids. Top tip: do not cut and paste this into a tender, as the nature of the question will change and your response will be too general. Use that model answer as a general guide and change it so it hits the mark.

The number one attribute to being a winning bidder is tenacity. You start from the point of knowing nothing and only become good because you are determined.
You don’t start out by winning every tender, it takes some time to learn the skills.

Remember the old saying ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’? If you want the secret to knowing what makes a winning bid, you only need to ask.

Want support with a tender bid?

Robert Harris has plenty of experience working with pest management companies going after tenders. Have a no-obligation conversation to find out how he can help.
07938 623 444
admin@harrisassociates.biz

Source: PPC101

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