basics of a tender response

Nailing the Basics of a Tender Response

If you supply to government, major buying organisations or the construction industry, you are probably no stranger to preparing and submitting tenders. Despite the tender process being such a common sales method, it is still one that many businesses continue to get wrong.

The buyer will provide extensive documentation with the expectation that the supplier will review all aspects of the opportunity and complete the relevant documents as part of the submission process. Unfortunately, buyer forms and submission requirements can be complex, and the timeframes can be short. As a result, submission preparation is often rushed, and tenderers frequently make assumptions about what is required in their responses. This can lead to mistakes in the tender submission and impact the buyer’s impression of the tenderer, and not in a good way!

How can you make sure that your tender document is the best that it can be? Continue reading for three easy ways to improve your chances of winning that next contract.  

1. Use the template you’re given

Buyers typically provide a template that they expect tenderers to use. This template is structured in a way that helps the buyer assess your solution and your capability to deliver. So, use it! And make sure to carefully read the instructions in the conditions of tender to see how you are expected to use the submission template.

If you don’t follow the buyer’s template, you:

  • impact the buyer’s ability to evaluate your bid via direct comparisons with other tenderers
  • increase the buyer’s workload in assessing your bid and identifying your ability to meet the requirements
  • increase the likelihood of your bid being rejected as you have not followed the buyer’s instructions to use the template provided

Some buyers will allow you to create your own template using your own style guide or branding, but this isn’t an invitation to show off your creative side, or to rewrite the questions to suit your capabilities! If you choose to create your own template, make sure that you follow the naming and numbering sequence of the original template provided by the buyer.

2. Don’t recycle; refresh

Many tender response documents will include the same elements even if they are from different buying organisations. Common elements in submission documents might include account management, the client relationship, performance management and reporting, insurances, or your service delivery approach.

Despite each opportunity and buyer being different, many tenderers reuse existing content from their previous tender responses. However, this recycling can lead to a number of issues in new tender submissions, such as:

  • incorrect or misaligned terminology
  • other client names (or even competing client names!) appearing in the reused content
  • unrelated or irrelevant content to the current buyer’s specifications
  • generic or vague content that lacks focus and detail

To avoid these problems, refresh your content! Make sure that you:

  • match the buyer’s terminology
  • clearly link your content to the tender and buying organisation at hand
  • have someone who isn’t involved in preparing the bid read your submission

Tools such as copy and paste and the find and replace function have made our lives easier when it comes to creating and editing content. But we can’t rely on them! As useful as they are, they won’t catch every spelling mistake, every grammatical error, or every wrong choice of word. Set time aside to thoroughly review your document so you’re not caught out if you happen to reuse old content.

3. Quality over quantity

When you really want to win an opportunity, you will naturally want to provide more information about your company and its capabilities. This might include submitting copies of corporate brochures, product flyers, annual reports, letters of recommendation, and more. While you may feel that this makes your company stand out, in reality, if the buyer has not asked for it, they don’t want to see it. Stay on point and focus on the qualities that the buyer is seeking by completing the tender response forms and comprehensively addressing the specification.

Additional information does not automatically add value. It can increase the workload of the buyer, especially if it has little relevance to the specification. Only include information that has a connection to the requirement and the solution you are proposing. Relevant items may include:

  • copies of insurance certificates
  • annual reports to demonstrate financial stability
  • copies of licenses and trade certificates
  • ISO certificates or other industry standards
  • project plans and schedules

When attaching additional items to the main tender response, make sure to reference these in the relevant sections so that their inclusion is justified, and the assessor can consult them when evaluating the submission. For example, if you are including a project plan to show how you would implement your solution, make sure you reference this in the section detailing your implementation approach.


Preparing and submitting tenders can seem like a daunting process. Give yourself and your solution the best chance at standing out by:

  • carefully reading the conditions of tender
  • using the template provided
  • treating every tender as a new opportunity
  • only including information that meets the buyer’s specification

For more ways to improve the success of your tender response, check out some of our other resources!