How to give yourselves a better chance of winning that next tender for engineering and construction work


How to give yourselves a better chance of winning that next tender for engineering and construction work

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been in a Tender review meeting and heard “it’s all about price”…well you know how the rest of the saying goes.


Variations on the theme I’ve heard include “the lowest tender always wins”, “money is the only language they understand“ and my personal favourite “why are we wasting our time on all this marketing crap anyway?”.


In a perfect world of rainbows and unicorns I’m more than happy to go along with the notion that in a fair evaluation between tenders, from parties all assessed as being equally capable of delivering the job in accordance with a clear scope of work, the lowest tendered price will win the day.


Over here in the real world I see a bunch of harassed clients under time and quality as well as cost pressure, making a call based on their best judgement and with their own masters to keep happy (and if you really think that you’re not going to be in a fair fight then don’t put your money where your mouth is and save your efforts for a better opportunity).


While procurement people lose sleep over justifying not going with the lowest price, the delivery team have nightmares over being stuck with the wrong contractor on the job – you’ve got to give your prospective client’s representatives the help they need to make the right decision!


Great tender submissions land on the client’s desk speaking the language of Win Themes as clear as day.


So what’s a Win Theme? It’s a topic that (a) really matters to your prospective client and (b) you can deliver on (and if you can’t think of anything and aren’t in a position to ask your client what they really want then ask yourself why you’re tendering this job?).


A fair dollop of persuasion can make the difference, especially if it comes down to a call between two similar submissions. Just don’t waste your time reminding the client what you as well as everyone else is good at!


Here’s a couple of examples of Win Themes to get you started:


There’s something your business does really well that makes you stand out in the pack – tell your Tender evaluator about it!

You reckon you understand the job better than anyone else – demonstrate it!

You know the client better than anyone – remind them why!

Don’t be afraid to say it with a few well-chosen images (maybe avoid including selfies with the client after that great night out last month before the tender came out…..).


And remember that the best Win Themes are high in the FUD factor, namely they create Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the mind of the decision makers when they’re considering going with your competition.


So give it a try – what have you got to lose except your next unsuccessful tender?


Article By Peter Wilkinson

Director – Tipping Point Advisory

Peter Wilkinson founded SamWilko Advisory in 2012 to address capability challenges in the Engineering and Construction industry.

Over 30 years in the private and public sectors Peter has seen many good small and medium sized enterprises in the industry fail to transition through the “tipping point” to become great businesses.

He has also seen many successful tenders badly transitioned into the project phase and a host of major projects fail to get off the ground quickly enough.

The cost to business in terms of lost time and opportunity translates to hundreds of millions of dollars.

What’s the common thread? It’s all about Strategy. Knowing what needs to be done, but more importantly knowing the order in which each task or project needs to be done, is the essence of a successful and well-executed strategy.

There are more effective ways to grow great businesses, win bids and deliver successful projects.

Peter Wilkinson draws on over 30 years of experience as a consulting engineer, project advisor and business mentor in offering leadership, project advisory and coaching services.

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