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Winning Tenders As The Incumbent

in Latest News | 14 Mar 2014 | 0 Comments


A previous article, Why Incumbents Lose Tenders, described a number of reasons why incumbents (who, all things being equal, you would think would have the advantage in tendering for ongoing contracts) unnecessarily lose the tender. This article shows how to overcome these mistakes (which usually arise from complacency and “more of the same”), and how to increase your chances of winning the tender and retaining the contract:

  1. Understand why you won last time round: It is helpful to be clear about why you won the contract the last time and e.g. whether it was a clear-cut decision or whether the evaluators had reservations about some aspects of your tender, in order to ensure those issues are addressed in the new tender.
  2. Exploit the value of continuity: Change of contractor or supplier represents risk and possible disruption for a customer. While being careful not to give the impression that you think you are indispensable, and while also heeding the rest of the points in this article gently ensure your client fully appreciates the risks involved with changing suppliers and the benefits of enabling you to continue to deliver even greater value.
  3. Assess performance to date: Well before the release of the RFT/RFP (months before, if you have not done so regularly as part of the current contract), you need to assess how well you are performing in the current contract and to think about and develop new or improved solutions or innovations. Doing this well ahead of time will ensure you can start to rectify any issues or shortcomings during the current contract, rather than promising to do better next time if you retain the contract.
  4. Demonstrate value provided in the current contract: if you have clearly identified ways you have added value in the current contract and/or contributed to your client’s objectives, clearly demonstrate and document this in the tender. Ensure the tender gives the evaluators a clear understanding of the performance and achievements delivered during the current contract – as they matter to the customer
  5. Don’t assume it’s “same as before”: That (points 1 to 4 above) said, don’t assume the customer is looking for exactly the same solution as that provided to date, and think “it’s all about price”. Treat the tender as though it was a new opportunity, and identify and confirm what really matters to the customer in this contract, taking a fresh look at the client’s objectives and challenges, and how you can meet them.

Incumbents should always challenge their existing solution when preparing for their re-tender, including challenging your assumptions about the offering, methodology or operational model, costs; and potential performance levels achievable. Complacency and arrogance, and/or evaluators’ perception that not enough work had gone into the tender (see 8. below) are key factors in tender losses by incumbents, particularly larger providers.

6 Think like your competitors or insurgents. Identify areas for improvement, change, fresh ideas. As well, think about your competitors’ strengths and what they might be offering? Putting yourself in your competitors’ shoes and asking yourself how you would approach the tenderer if you were them will also identify some of the issues you need to address and neutralise.

7. Add value and innovation: Identify where you could be offering more improvements or adding more value, and show this and any potential for efficiencies or areas of innovation (in technology, equipment, systems or processes etc). Many of your competitors will be doing this; your incumbency should at least provide you with specific insight on which to base suggestions for improvement etc.

8. Respond to the tender fully: Ensure you describe your company, experience, approach and capabilities etc in sufficient detail to satisfy the evaluators, not assuming the evaluators will know this, or that “they know we can do it – we already do it”. Usually, many if most of the tender evaluators will be separate from the people familiar with your services day to day, and/or they will evaluate the tender on “what was in the tender response document”. Since our inception, Tender Consulting have helped hundreds of companies win re-tenders as well as new tenders.  If you would like help with your tender, please do not hesitate to contact u