Why didn’t I get that contract? 5 top tips to improve your chances

2 Jun 2015
Article by Achilles

The process of bidding for a contract can be long, intense and expensive, which can make losing the contract to a rival all the more disappointing.

Almost half of CPOs cite supplier risk as a top concern when assessing the main areas of risk facing their departments, according to the 2015 Global Procurement & Strategic Sourcing Data Survey by Consero Group. It is likely worries over supplier risk could lead buyers to choose one bidder over another.

“CPOs will need to lead their organisations in vetting new suppliers thoroughly and improving supplier relations, both of which are essential to the efficient sourcing of goods and services for today’s global businesses,” says Paul Mandell, founder and CEO of Consero Group.

While there is no magic formula that will guarantee suppliers can win every contract they bid for, we believe following 5 simple tips could go a long way to improving success rates:

1) Know your buyer

Thorough research you can make all the difference between an average bid and one that will make the buyer sit up and take notice. Perhaps the most important thing for suppliers is showing that you understand what the buyer’s company does and how they do it.

You then have the opportunity to demonstrate how your products, services and way of working fit with the buyer’s own operations, highlighting your unique selling points in the process.

2) Create a bid document library

Building a library of documents containing much of the information needed to create a bid can help suppliers not only save time during the bid process, but also ensure you present only the most relevant and up-to-date information in your proposal.

The contents of this library will vary from supplier to supplier, but will typically contain the documents most requested by buyers and answers to commonly-asked questions.

These can include:

  • Company policies (including but not limited to those relating to health and safety, the environment, equality and diversity, data protection and quality assurance)
  • Technical specifications for the supplier’s products and services
  • Insurance details
  • Testimonials, references and case studies
  • Supply chain management details
  • Risk registers
  • Proof of compliance (e.g. certificates and registration documents)
  • Templates for creating new bid documents

Examples of previously successful bid documents

It is crucial that the contents of the bid document library are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain current and fit for purpose, especially after a particularly successful or unsuccessful bidding process.

3) Gain industry-recognised accreditations – and keep these up-to-date

One of the first things buyers will look for in bidders is any accreditations they hold that are relevant to their industry.

This can include both country-specific and globally recognised qualifications and registrations, which are not always compulsory. However, ‘nice-to-have’ qualifications can give suppliers an edge over other bidders, so it can be a good idea to consider obtaining these in additional to essential qualifications.

Accreditations can become obsolete as they are replaced by more up-to-date versions or entirely new ones. So suppliers need to keep on top of this if they are to present themselves to a buyer as a fully-qualified bidder.

4) Go the extra mile in meeting compliance requirements

Suppliers must stay on top of the compliance requirements within their industry and ensure they meet every single one. Checking the compliance needs of the buyer in question is essential before preparing a bid, even if the supplier has worked with that company before, as requirements can change.

As with accreditations, it is also a wise idea to go above and beyond basic compliance requirements to stand out from the competition.

Thames Water, for example, require all suppliers to demonstrate they have the competencies, systems and resources to safely undertake the work they are allocated. To facilitate this Thames Water use Achilles UVDB, our community for the UK utilities industry to qualify suppliers, and Verify Audits to evaluate a supplier’s health and safety capabilities, to ensure their supply chain management objectives are met.

This is something those suppliers need to ensure they are prepared for in order to win contracts from Thames Water.

5) Emphasise your credibility

Buyers want to know that the suppliers they work with are reliable and have a track record of providing an excellent service.

One way to show this is through references and testimonials from previous contracts, which should be included in the bid document and also displayed on the relevant company collateral, including the supplier’s website and brochures.

Maritime services provider ISS-Palumbo UK prominently displays its Achilles FPAL registration stamp in those parts of the company where this registration has been achieved.

“Achilles FPAL gives you an extra level of credibility – it’s the first thing people ask for,” says Ian Tombs, chief corporate compliance officer at ISS.

How can Achilles help?

The constant theme running through the above points is the importance of suppliers showing that they can be trusted to work on a buyer’s contract.

Joining an Achilles community can be an effective way of demonstrating this to buyers. One UVDB subscriber, MTS Cleansing Services, has seen clear benefits as a result of joining multiple Achilles communities.

Health and safety manager Kevin Graham calls Achilles “the gold standard”, adding: “Thanks to Achilles and the consistency of quality that it represents, when we get to the tendering stage, we’re almost always one of the last two or three standing.”



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