Tried to tender, but failed?

Never fall into the same trap again by understanding common mistakes you really ought to know about!

Who said that the tendering process is easy? Er … no-one … ever … as far as I know! That’s because there are often large sums of money involved, many applicants, many evaluators, and many pitfalls.


So here, and it might sound a little negative, we’re going to go through some of the common mistakes that are made during the bid writing procedure that just keep popping up time and time again. And don’t worry if you hear bells ringing. If you’ve made any of these errors before, you won’t be alone. Leave errors well and truly in the past and learn from them. Move on.

Hindsight is a fabulous thing, but whilst it may come too late to win your bid, it’s also a valuable way to discover where silly mistakes were made and how, with a little time and patience, those mistakes can be turned on their head into something that brings success. What follows is just a handful of oversights and faults that could have easily been avoided…

1. Not reading, or mis-reading the paperwork 

It isn’t too much to ask is it? Once the paperwork has arrived, sit down, grab a cuppa, and read the whole thing through. Then read it again. It doesn’t have to be straight away if time is short, but always, always read it again. This second read-through will consolidate what you’ve read first time round and questions that may have felt vague now make sense. You should also pick up things that you might have mis-read at first. It’s so easy to spot when a question has been mis-read or not read through thoroughly. The answers and details (however clearly put) just don’t match up with what’s being asked. The result is a poor score, a thrown out bid and a waste of your time!

2. Not presenting the correct documents

This is bread-and-butter stuff and bidders lose easy marks for not including the right documentation. Getting things ready before making a start means that nothing gets left out or forgotten. Evaluators won’t waste time chasing up missing documents and something as straight forward as this could mean the difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no.’ Core documents such as insurances, policies and procedures, testimonials, financial data and previous contracts should be easily available. Not presenting what has been requested is a sure route to failure.

3. Rushing

Pure and simple! And whilst I’m not a patriot of old saying and clichés … if you fail to prepare – you prepare to fail! It’s so obvious when reading a tender that the writer has rushed through the whole thing. Answers and explanations seem disjointed and some sections are barely answered at all. It soon becomes clear that little planning has gone in to the process, yet alone time. A well-presented tender will by no means be the first draft! There should have been at least two or three prior to the final one being prepared, and this really does take some time. Evaluators can soon spot a rushed attempt and will be quick to jump on poorly executed answers.

4. Poor use of language and over-use of jargon

These go hand-in-hand and make for an uncomfortable read by the evaluators. Answers and explanations should flow easily so that it’s clear what is being described. Poor grammar, bad spelling, disjointed phrases and scratchy responses won’t help the reader to picture the valuable skills-set and experience that’s on offer. Using the jargon and terminology that’s in use in the writer’s everyday routine won’t necessarily be understood, and the readers won’t want to start rooting around trying to find out what’s being said. Be clear and concise.

5. Not proof-reading

A continuation of point (4) above. It’s always amazing that some people fail to get ‘a fresh pair of eyes’ to look over their work. Not everyone is a star at putting things down on paper and many even feel uncomfortable doing so, yet they still try to muddle through without help. The resultant disorderly structure sticks out like a sore thumb and does little to inspire confidence. Having a bid document proofread is time well spent and can highlight any gremlins so that obvious mistakes can be rectified. Poorly phrased answers can be recast and an alternative perspective can be gained. The result will be a well-presented and well-written tender that’s a pleasure to read.

So never fall in to the same trap that others have fallen in to. Address the basics and you’ll form a sound foundation for your bid writing. For more information on getting it right, contact us for a chat, we’ll be pleased to help.

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