How to secure your government tenders

Q: What’s the number one reason why, every year, more than 60% of tenders submitted to all levels of Australian government fail to make it through the first round?
A: Non conformance with specific tender requirements.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Just do what’s asked of you and your bid will get through. However, when you’re dealing with the government, it’s all about responding in exactly the right manner. Not reasonably close to, not somewhere in the near vicinity of, but exactly the right manner. Not sure what that includes? Here are some clues.

  • First up, print out the whole tender document, then go through it carefully, highlighting which forms and questions are mandatory.
  • Never, never, never submit a tender that includes blank spaces, unanswered questions or “n/a” in your response. If a question doesn’t apply to you, you still need to address it by stating, “This question does not apply to my business because…”. You’ll be compliant and the assessor will get the right impression that you’ve paid attention to what you’re doing.
  • Note carefully which questions or sections use words such as willshall or must. Think of these as giant signposts indicating it’s imperative that you answer these parts. Once again, if the section doesn’t apply to you, you know what to do.
  • Also look out for sections or questions which use words such as shouldcould or may. It’s here that you can provide additional supporting information and you can do this by utilising space on the tender form or by creating an attachment. Make good use of any opportunities like this to show the assessor a bit more about your offering – it could be just what’s needed to tip the scales in your favour.
  • Remember that a tender is about giving you licence to promote your business, not denigrate the competition. By emphasising your strengths and focusing on what you can do, it will reflect well on your business and still get the message across that you’re way better than your rivals.
  • Watch word counts like a hawk. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you’re even one word over in just one section, then your bid is doomed. Check carefully to see if words used for diagrams or images contribute to the total; many a submission has come unstuck by not clarifying what “750 words max” actually includes.
  • Whilst we’re on the subject of words, write in conversational language and don’t resort to jargon or “government speak”. It’s perfectly fine to reflect back words used in the tender questions, of course. Be succinct and consider using an attachment for in-depth explanations if absolutely necessary.
  • And finally, make a very clear note of the date and time by which all tenders must be submitted. If you’re late – even by one, tiny 60-second minute – your tender will be automatically rejected. Always allow more than ample time for delivery and include a Plan B delivery method to take into account computer failures, postal strikes, uploading issues, sudden death of your carrier pigeon and so on.

Securing a government tender can be a great win for your business, so give yourself the best chance of success by following every single requirement – to the letter!

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or head to the contact page.

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