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Submitting a tender

Tips about responding to tenders – what to include in your response, how to present to and negotiate with buyers, debriefs and the complaints process.

1. Decide whether to apply

Tendering can be expensive, with many hidden costs, like having staff away from their regular jobs to respond to the RFx – sometimes opting not to compete in an RFx may be a good decision.

To decide whether to apply for an opportunity, consider:

  • do you think you have everything the buyer is looking for – if not, can you bring in a partner
  • do you have some knowledge of the buyer and their key priorities
  • are you on the buyer’s radar
  • if there is an incumbent, do you have a chance of beating them
  • who might your other competitors be – do you have a unique selling point that will put you above the competition
  • do you have the time, energy and commitment to put your best foot forward
  • are the costs you'll incur worth the possibility of winning the tender
  • are there risks associated with tendering or not tendering?

Putting in an unsolicited proposal

You can make an unsolicited proposal to an agency, but it must meet strict criteria to be considered.

Putting in an unsolicited proposal

2. Prepare your response

Check you know what's required, get the team together and make sure everyone knows the deadlines you're working to.

Plan your response

When you're putting together your documents, make sure you:

  • get the basics right
  • highlight your point of difference
  • show you've got the right experience
  • weight your answers according to the criteria.

What to include in your response

Ask questions

You can ask the buyer any questions about the RFx document during the RFx process.

The buyer will usually include details in the RFx document about asking questions, including:

  • a contact person
  • how to contact them
  • a deadline for submitting questions.

Unless your question includes commercially sensitive information, the buyer will make the question and answer available to all tenderers.

3. Making a presentation to the buyers

After you’ve submitted your tender response, you might have to meet and present to the evaluation team. This requirement should be mentioned in the RFx information.

The presentation is a chance for the evaluators to test how you work as a team, how well your team might work with theirs, and how you respond under pressure. It's your chance to convince the evaluators you know what you’re doing and can deliver everything you’ve promised in your proposal.

When you present to a buyer:

  • select three key facts you want the evaluators to remember – these are the primary reasons to award the contract to you – then make everything else relate to those three facts
  • keep your presentation relatively short – less than half your allotted time, leaving plenty of time for questions and answers.

4. Negotiating if you're the preferred bidder

Be prepared to negotiate on things like price, timeframes and deliverables if you're chosen as preferred bidder.

Think about:

  • organising a “negotiation team” rather than going it alone
  • your position in the market and what your competitors might be offering
  • your ideal outcome
  • the concessions you might be willing to give
  • any dealbreakers for your organisation
  • your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).

Develop strong and logical explanations for your key positions. Try to move the conversation towards value, not just price, eg volume, payment terms, early payment discounts, length of contract and exclusivity.

Make sure you record whatever you agree in writing.

5. Requesting a debrief

Any bidder can request a debrief after the tender process is finished. Use the debrief to find out the buyer's thoughts on where your solution can be improved, your capabilities, credibility and value-add components.

You can ask about:

  • sections of the tender where you might not have provided enough detail, or areas where you scored low in the evaluation
  • who won and why they won
  • any strengths and weaknesses the buyer perceived in your proposal
  • overall perception of your organisation.

How buyers should debrief unsuccessful suppliers

6. Feedback and complaints

If you have feedback or concerns about a procurement process, raise it with the agency directly, use our supplier feedback service or make a formal complaint.

Feedback and complaints