Once you've got your technology and systems all set up, the resources needed to research and write up a bid, and an opportunity that's a fit for you, the next step is to...get to work on your tender.
In our last post, we talked about how to know if you're ready to tender for a contract, and how to determine whether a contract is a good opportunity for your field service business.
But what should you put in your tender? The obvious answer is to follow the guidelines set forth by the buyer. But remember, a tender's not just a dry document full of data! Though you have more creative license in a private sector tender than a public sector one, a tender can also be considered a sales pitch for your business.
Offering more than the bare bones data will help you stand out among the competition and win the contract. Here’s how...and also be sure to download our free Tender Writing Checklist to help you write your winning bid.
What should I put in a tender?
Of course, you should provide all the information the buyer requests. Besides that, however, there's more you can add that will get you closer to a win. Like these:
- Actual answers. Make sure that you’re answering the questions the buyer is asking, not the questions you want them to be asking.
- Backup for your facts. Every statement you make in a tender needs to be backed up with hard data and stats. For example, instead of simply saying you have a high first-time fix rate, figure out what your first-time fix rate is and compare it to the industry average.
- Less "we," more "you." Instead of just bragging about your business, talk about how you can benefit the buyer.
- Added value. Offer ideas, suggestions, and extra analysis to show that your business has a lot to offer beyond the bare minimum needed to complete the job.
Read on for more detailed information (and examples) on each of these suggestions.
1. Actual answers to the buyer’s questions
While you’d love to shoehorn in your biggest brags, don’t be like those politicians who seem to have a knack for answering a question without actually answering it. ‘People think, “This is what I want to say, and I have to make sure I get it into there,’” says David Williams, Director of Purple Patch Marketing Consultants in Essex. ‘But lots of tenders are formulaic. “Have you got five million in liability? Tick.”’
A buyer’s questions show what’s important to them as a client, and your job is to fulfill those needs. ‘You’re creating an argument for why your company is the very company to deliver this very specific service to this very specific commissioner,’ adds Tony McKelvie, a Director at Tenders-UK in Leicestershire. ‘Each commissioner will ask a specific number of questions, and those are the questions that tell you what’s important to this commissioner.’
2. Backup for your facts.
You know your customer service is the best, your first-time fix rate is the highest, and your engineers are the most skilled. But how can the buyer verify this information?
There's an old saying in journalism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Every statement you make in a tender needs to be backed up with hard, verifiable data and statistics. For example:
No backup: We have the highest first-time fix rate in the industry.
Backup: According to data from our field service management software, our first-time fix rate is 89%, compared to what Plumbing and Heating News reports as 75% for the industry as a whole.
No backup: Our engineers are the most skilled in the area.
Backup: 90% of our engineers have X certification, compared with 70% for the industry as a whole.
No backup: We pride ourselves on offering the best customer service.
Backup: Our business has won the "Best Customer Service award" from the National Customer Service Association five years in a row, and we have a Net Promoter Score of 80, which is considered world class.
In the first post of this series, one of the readiness-to-bid requirements was that you have someone on board who knows how to do research. That's because backing up every statement in an extensive tender takes excellent researching skills.
3. Less "we," more "you."
Yes, the buyer needs to know all about your field service business before awarding a contract—but that doesn't mean a tender is all about me, me, me. Bragging about how great your business is, instead of how you can meet the client's needs, is not a winning strategy.
Buyers are looking for businesses that can solve their problems, so be sure to stress throughout your tender how working with you will, for example:
- Make the buyer’s job/life easier.
- Help the buyer save money.
- Help the buyer save time.
- Reduce risk for the buyer.
- Make the buyer’s tenants of customers happy.
Here are some examples of ways to turn "me" into "you."
"Me": Clients like X, Y, and Z turn to us for all their maintenance needs, and say we're the best business they've hired.
"You": We've helped clients like X, Y, and Z with maintenance needs that are similar to yours; for example....
"Me": Our company boasts the most skilled engineers in the industry.
"You": Our engineers have the skills to take care of your particular needs. For example, your units have Worcester Bosch boilers; five of our engineers specialise in that particular brand.
"Me": We pride ourselves in offering the best customer service.
"You": Our engineers' excellent customer service skills will help your tenants feel confident and safe.
In other words, take whatever is great about your business and flip it around into how it can help the buyer. Add the data you dug up through your search to back up those facts, and you have a winning combination.
4. Added value.
In a sea of similar bidders, businesses that offer extra value will rise to the top.
You can safely assume that everyone who is tendering for this contract can do the job. So what does your business offer that your competitors don't? (Again, this needs to backed up with data!) This is where your Unique Selling Proposition, which we discussed in our previous post, comes into play; be sure your USP is prominent in your tender, plus in all your communications with the client. (Though, as we discussed earlier, don’t try to cram this if it means you don’t answer the actual question being asked!)
Next, show the buyer how much your business has to offer. For example:
- Include ideas for how to solve a problem.
- Offer an analysis of their future needs.
- Point the client to additional helpful resources.
When others are doing the bare minimum it takes to fulfill the contract, your business will stand out as exceptional.
Help is out there.
If all of this sounds overwhelming, look into tender trainings like the classes offered by B2B Quote. And remember to download our free Tender Checklist below to ensure you have everything you need in place to go after tender opportunities—and win the contract.