From my years of experience in the tender writing business, I know that the first three elements of your tender are key when it comes to ‘wowing’ the client and showing them you understand their needs and can deliver on their requirements.
Tenders are marketing documents. Your response needs to sell your organisation, the benefits of your products/services and the value you will provide the client.
The structure of your tender is critical to your success, something many people overlook. Having a simple yet comprehensive tender structure is extremely important. The structure may be set-out by the client and if that’s the case, it’s vital you follow that structure. If there is no pre-defined structure, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and develop your own, while still meeting all the client’s requirements.
Your cover page is the first part of the submission the client sees so it’s vital you present yourself in a professional manner.
Things to include on the cover page:
Use the cover page to your advantage and make a good first impression! If you don’t have the tools to do this, it might be worthwhile hiring a graphic designer or purchasing some professional images to use. The cover page needs to represent the services you are going to be provide while also showing off your brand.
The cover letter is a polite yet informal introduction to the client, highlighting your company, your offer and your aims for the partnership. It also provides the client with a point of reference for further contact.
The cover letter is not the place to introduce new information. Rather, it provides you with one last opportunity to briefly summarise why the client should choose you over everyone else. While tenders can sometimes be formal and dry, the cover letter is a place where you can show off some of your personality.
Use the Cover Letter Template provided to customise to your business and your brand. (Available from the Module 5 downloads lesson.)
The executive summary should be the final thing you write as it is a summary of all the elements in your response.
Basically … your executive summary is your pitch.
The executive summary brings together the key points that you want to make in your tender response or proposal. Essentially, it acts like a roadmap. By following the map, you’re making sure you cover your key strategic selling points as you write your tender response.
It’s important to start each executive summary with your prospective client’s name. This ensures the first word they read is their own.
From there, you can begin writing out your understanding of the client’s needs.
Break down what they’ve told you in the briefing, conversation, meeting or in the tender documents.
The rest of the executive summary is your business’ solutions written out in a succinct and brief way. The executive summary is where you tell the client how you will add value to their organisation. Rather than it being about what you do and how you do it, the executive summary is your opportunity to concisely describe what the client will gain by choosing your business.
The executive summary should be no more than two pages. Keep the specific details for the rest of your tender or proposal.
Some people like to write the executive summary last so they know what’s in the proposal and what they are actually summarising. However, if you run out of time and rush the executive summary, it will read like an afterthought (which you definitely don’t want!)
You might like to try writing it first, which will also force you to think hard about why the client should select you. You can then write rest of your proposal based on your executive summary. In practice, however, it’s hard to complete the executive summary before you’ve written the rest of the proposal.
My tip: Build your executive summary as you go.
As you begin to assemble the body of your proposal, take note of your strongest arguments for why the client should choose you. When the time comes to write the executive summary, your arguments will be clearer in your head and quicker to draft up.
How long should it be?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend anything longer than two pages. Any more than that and it basically becomes another section of your proposal. Remember: you’re summarising, not expanding on or building a new argument.
Use the Executive Summary Template provided to customise to your business and your brand. (Available from the Module 5 downloads lesson.)