Guide to Effectively Winning Public Sector Tenders

Winning public sector tenders is a complex process, requiring a lot of preparation, contextual knowledge, communication and effort - amongst other things. It’s more than proving you are the right team for the job, also requiring that you can satisfy all the needs of the buyer, supplying them with accuracy and innovation, from bidding all the way through to delivery.

So what exactly goes into winning these tenders? What’s the most important information you need to know? What do you have to prepare for?

winning public sector tenders

This blog will cover the insights you can use when bidding, helping you win public sector tenders.

Approach Like a Sales Pitch

Winning a public sector contract is a lot like a sales pitch - effectively advertising your product or service as the one to purchase. The process needs to be managed properly, accurately and accounting for all potential risks, questions and requirements.

Make it your mission to understand the tender document intimately and ensure your team understands it too. A sales pitch is only as strong as the team behind it. 

You need to identify the key points being made and accurately and concisely state how you can satisfy those points. This isn’t just about filling in forms and hoping for the best but it’s about fully selling yourselves as the go-to supplier. Why do you deserve the contract? Answering that in full will stand you in good stead of a win. 

People like to be talked to genuinely and have their issues understood, so don’t be arrogant. Approach directly but take recourse to understand the problems faced and how you can help. Similarly, understand the context. Does a regional issue influence the tender or is it a nationwide need? Context is king.

Choose the Right Tender

We all have our specialisms. What makes your service stand out? If you have something to offer, choose the tender that most aligns with that specialism.

It’s all about finding relevance - how relevant is your service to the public sector’s requirement? This is a very successful consideration when bidding on regional tenders. These will have regional-specific issues and if you’re a local business, you're in a better position to supply as you know the area and the community.

Choosing tenders isn’t about selecting easy targets. There’s no point in bidding on a tender that’s 500 miles away unless you have the direct capability of satisfying the need. It’s about carefully considering what's on offer, where it’s needed and how much you can stand out in the process.

Get the Right Accreditations

Many tender documents stipulate potential suppliers must hold a certain amount of accreditations. These are particularly pertinent to public sector contracts. They prove without a doubt a service can be provided compliantly and reduce the amount of risk involved once the tender has been awarded. 

The right accreditation is sometimes a ‘make or break’. Tenders will contain requirements for generic accreditations alongside more specific ones directly relating to the contract at hand. 

For example, you'll want to ensure you’re accredited with ISO:9001 for quality management and ISO:14001 for environmental management before applying for a public sector contract.

Prepare for the SSQ

The Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) is used to select suppliers for tender. It contains criteria covering the potential supplier’s organisational and legal status, alongside their financial standing and technical ability.

Depending on the nature of the contract and the services required, there might be specific questions related to that subject. For example, you may find questions on diversity, environmental management or health and safety. 

Answering these questions honestly and transparently, alongside prior preparation, is key. Similarly, make sure you’re answering in as full and detailed a way as possible. If you’re successful at the SSQ stage, you’ll be short-listed for the tender stage and receive an Invitation to Tender (ITT).

In most cases, no decisions will be made based upon previous knowledge or experience with a supplier - it all depends on the SSQ and/or the response to the ITT. This makes these stages critical to the prospective supplier. 

You can download an SSQ template by clicking here.

Be Aware of the Evaluation Criteria

Each tender comes with a set amount of evaluation criteria the authority advertising the tender is looking for - criteria successful bids must satisfy. 

Simply put, these are standards used to assess how well a supplier’s bid meets the requirements of the tendering public sector organisation. There are two types of criteria to be aware of:

  • Selection criteria: This inquires on the supplier’s track record and past experiences with supplying for public sector contracts. It sorts the organisations into two categories - those who are suitably qualified to supply for the requirements and those who aren’t.
  • Award criteria: This relates to the specific contract at hand, analysing the requirements suppliers will have to satisfy that only relate to the contract. This will also look into which contracts are the best value for money. 

In practice, evaluating these criteria might look like this: An SSQ requests the supplier in question provides evidence of a Risk Management Policy. The award criteria would request information on how this policy would be applied alongside how the supplier identifies risks. 

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