proposal writing

Common Proposal Mistakes: 3 of 10 – Not writing with the reader in mind

Building Rapport

To build rapport with someone in a physical meeting, you can mimic their body stances and posture (subtly). This helps to gain their trust.

You may not have the opportunity to do this in a tender process. What you can do is carefully look at the language that is used in their RFT documents and repeat it back to them. They’ve likely spent a lot of time getting information to include in the documents from their colleagues internally. If you can use the same language, particularly if it’s about a technical aspect of the requirements, then it will feel to them like you’re involved in the ongoing conversation about their requirements and will help to build virtual rapport.


Extract from the eBook HOW TO PREPARE A WINNING TENDER… From the Procurement Marker’s Perspective


Common Proposal Mistakes: 2 of 10 – Not including clear additional value

When the numbers person (financial reviewer) is adding up the cost of each offer, there’s a good chance that they’ll include any responses to “value-add” questions.

Responding to the Value-Add Questions

Value-add questions tend to be open ended and the best way to respond is with as many suggestions as you can think of and, importantly, equate them to a monetary value.

For example, you might have offices with additional space that could be used for training and you could equate this to the cost of them having to rent this space elsewhere to give a dollar figure. Spend some time thinking about things you can offer over and above your direct response to their requirements – even if there’s a chance that they won’t take you up on them.

Extract from the eBook HOW TO PREPARE A WINNING TENDER… From the Procurement Marker’s Perspective



how to win a tender

Common Proposal Mistakes: 1 of 10 – Responding with a “No”

An example: an RFT asks whether the supplier has in place any sort of benefits tracking reporting for other clients. Rather than a flat-out no, a supplier could quickly integrate some sort of benefits tracking in an existing client’s report and then ask at the next reporting meeting whether they find it useful. Whether or not they do, you as a supplier can answer “yes”.

Industry Bodies

Another very frequently seen example of this is the response to “does your organisation have any relevant memberships to industry bodies?” with the response just being “no” from the tenderer. Know how to get maximum points for your answer instead? Just do a Google search for memberships and subscriptions and some words about your industry. There are so many out there and membership might be $100 or less (and may even be useful to you in future). Sign up and you can now answer “yes” to this question and potentially get full marks, and then get into the shortlist, and then charm them in the presentations and then… win the big contract.

Extract from the eBook HOW TO PREPARE A WINNING TENDER… From the Procurement Marker’s Perspective




How a good Request for Tender (RFT) Document is Designed

Best practice RFT design starts with a meeting of representative stakeholders in the buying organisation to determine what they want. Typically, their requirements will include some goods and/or services which they’ll get the experts within their organisations involved in to put the specifications together. For example, if they’re buying food it may need to be cut to certain dimensions, frozen, have a specific country of origin etc. With input from their colleagues, they’ll also get a list of things that are important to them which might look something like:

• Experience in providing the goods/services
• Understanding of our organisation
• Geographic coverage
• Implementation planning
• Value add
• Cost effectiveness of the offer

These will form the evaluation criteria which will be the basis of the RFT and against which suppliers’ responses will be measured. The stakeholders will then decide how these criteria should be weighted based on what is most important to the organisation. How they are weighted really depends on the buying organisation and whether they let suppliers know what the weightings are is typically at their discretion. It’s a great help if they do publish the weightings in the RFT as it gives suppliers an idea of where to really focus their efforts.

The Sections

Most RFTs I’ve seen start with some RFT terms and conditions which are informational. The terms and conditions serve to protect the buying organisation (e.g. clauses to say that they don’t need to appoint any one supplier, that costs of putting together responses are solely to be borne by the participating suppliers etc.) and to inform the suppliers (e.g. when the responses are due, the process for asking questions).

Next, typically comes a bunch of questions which suppliers are to respond to. These questions are linked to the evaluation criteria. Relating to our above example criteria they may ask you to provide examples of similar clients that you’ve got or had. The marks assigned to this question would likely be attributed to the “Experience in providing the goods/services” criterion.
Usually at the end there’ll be a place for you to enter your pricing (may be spreadsheet if there’s a list of commodities/services) along with some attachments which may or not include the buying organisation’s standard contract.

Extract from the eBook HOW TO PREPARE A WINNING TENDER… From the Procurement Marker’s Perspective

Next up… How a good RFT process is run


What is procurement?

The quick answer people give is “it’s buying”. That is only one part of what procurement is…


…enables an organisation to operate by ensuring that the right goods and services are available to fulfil the objectives of the organisation.

Direct procurement

… deals with goods and services directly related to what the organisation sells. For example, windscreens for a car manufacturer or flour to a bread manufacturer.

Indirect procurement

…relates to all goods and services required by the business which do not directly relate to what their core business is. For example, computers or office supplies to both the car and bread manufacturers.

When we say “it’s not simply buying”, consider that it would typically be a procurement-led decision whether or not to outsource management of the IT service desk in an organisation. Procurement’s role is to establish what the particular need is and to work with the organisation to ensure that the need is fulfilled in the best possible way.

Procurement is very important to a successful organisation. Sales and marketing can only do so much to increase revenue whereas the procurement department gives an organisation control of its costs and therefore directly impacts profit.