The all-island public procurement market is worth £10.4bn and offers significant opportunities for SMEs to win steady business and increase their sales. For many firms however applying for public sector contracts can be quite daunting, says Caroline Sweeney, InterTradeIreland’s Public Tendering Programme Manager.
Firms often comment that they don’t know where to go to find out about public sector contracts, or are cautious about tendering. The irony is that public sector buyers are keen to work with smaller companies, as they tend to be more invested in securing a positive outcome and are often agile, innovative and very accessible.
Small businesses can break into this lucrative market with tendering support and guidance. Here are ten tips to improve your tendering success.
Do your homework
Preparation is the key to submitting a great tender response. Always be on the look-out for tender opportunities, make sure they are accessible and that you can submit a competitive response. Register as a supplier on tendering platforms such as eTendersNI and eTenders.gov.ie to receive alerts of upcoming tender opportunities.
Be more competitive
Always be competitive and make sure your bid document fully sells your company’s capability. Have a clear understanding of your business and look at new innovative ways of providing a service that will stand out with potential clients.
Only apply for tenders that you believe you can and should win!
Focus your efforts and only apply for tenders that offer your business the greatest prospect of success, whether it is in terms of sub-sector, size, geography or technical requirements.
Try not to misjudge what the buyer is looking for
If you want your tender submission to stand out from the rest, you need to demonstrate that your company understands the buyer’s needs. What exact requirements do they have? Why is your company best placed to address their specific needs? Set out your proposed solution clearly and demonstrate how you can add value to their business.
Work with other companies
You may wish to tender for a particular contract but do not have the necessary resources or skills to provide the full service requirements. Joining forces with other firms can allow you to address gaps in experience and tender for larger, higher value contracts.
Invest time and resources to complete the tender response
Try to submit the tender 24 hours prior to the submission deadline. This will demonstrate your competency as a company who respects deadlines and can deliver on time.
Build a team that can bring a great document together in a short time
The entire process, from receiving tender documentation, pulling together costs, liaising with colleagues and submitting the bid, can average around three weeks. Surround yourself with a good team and have one central control point for the tender. For smaller organisations, this may fall under the remit of a senior person.
Request tender feedback
You may not win every tender you apply for but you can learn from this. Always seek feedback, which you can build into your approach for the next tender.
Be Patient, tender success doesn’t always come easy
Don’t expect tender success to come easily, it takes focussed research and resources. It may take some time to find the right approach, whether it’s getting your documents correct, or trial and error with applying for the right tenders. Tendering can be a bit of a learning curve – but once you are successful, the return will be worthwhile.
Avail of InterTradeIreland Tendering Supports
InterTradeIreland has a number of tendering supports to help businesses tender successfully for public sector contracts.
The Go-2-Tender programme can help you and your business learn how to write quality tender responses, through practical workshops and 1 to 1 mentoring.
Meet the Buyer events give SMEs access to key staff who commission and procure goods & services on behalf of public sector clients.
It takes time and resources to prepare a successful tender bid. For businesses planning their approach, InterTradeIreland’s tendering supports are an excellent first step.
Find out more at https://intertradeireland.com/sales-growth/tender-successfully/.