Many businesses recognise the value of a well written tender, bid or quote to help them land new and repeat business. Yet there are many who leave their tender response to the last minute and don’t engage the right people for the task.

When that next RFT lands in your inbox, consider this survival guide for writing a winning response.

Remember, it’s an investment not only in getting this contract (or becoming a panel provider), it’s an investment in your reputation and future responses too.

1. Make the Statement of Requirements your new best friend. Read all the supplied RFT documentation multiple times. During the writing process, keep referring back to the requirements. And stick to the rules. If they ask for 300 words for a particular element, don’t give them 305 words.

2. Stay linked in to avoid FOMO (fear of missing out). Sign up to the RFT online forum and make sure you’ve included your email address for any addenda alerts. Read each addendum and make any changes to your master documentation (and share with the project team). Clarify any details with the tender team early.

3. Project manage like a star. See this tender response as a singular project. Assign a project team, schedule it, delegate the right tasks to the right people. Get a strong writer involved from the start. Hold regular meetings on progress so it doesn’t fall into the ‘last minute’ bucket. Ask your subject matter experts for information supplied in a format that will suit the RFT requirements (i.e. pricing as an hourly rate).

4. Stay decluttered. Set up a Dropbox or shared folder with clear file naming and folders for relevant materials (i.e. Part A, Part B, Pricing). Name files in the required convention (as per the RFT) from the beginning and manage version control with dates and authors. Move background or non-essential documents into a separate folder when a section is completed.

5. Get creative (within the confines). Not all tender responses allow you to include images, branding or other creative elements. Find a way to inject your business values and ‘personality’ throughout the content. Use team bios or CVs to highlight your team’s impressive skills (and use photos), source quality referees who will bring your credibility to life, and use attachments to visually demonstrate services or experience to support your response.

6. Respect the role of your writer. Your final tender response must be the responsibility of a central writer. By all means, cut and paste from other documents and pull text from different contributors. But make sure you have an experienced writer to refine and edit for consistency, flow, quality and alignment with the RFT, specifications and SoR. This central role is critical to the quality of the end product, so allow time for the writer to collate, edit, make linkages throughout, proofread and finalise the document (which includes correct file naming, file sizes, file type and attachments).

7. Don’t rehash every time. While a quality tender response can form the basis of your future responses, take care to view each RFT as a new project. While elements can be reused, there will always be the need for fresh, up-to-date information. And there’s nothing worse (or more embarrassing for a business) than having an evaluation committee read a response that has clearly been copied and pasted with reference to another RFT – ouch.

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