Bid Your Best…

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Winning a public sector contract is not as unachievable as some might think. With a good understanding of how the system works and a clear strategy in place, the tender process can be completed within reasonable timescales, with minimal strain on resources.

Using my experience of evaluating tender responses, I have put together a quick checklist of dos and don’ts to help you navigate the tender process. Good luck!


  • Complete the tender in full and do exactly what is asked of you
  • Complete the tender in a particular format, if asked to do so
  • Hire a consultant to help you complete your bid if you do not have the time/experience
  • Contact the buyer if you are unclear of any aspects of the tender
  • Be creative – work out your USP and make your response relevant to the requirement
  • Price at a point that is sustainable for your business
  • Send your tender in 24 hours prior to the deadline


  • Go for contracts that you cannot fulfil
  • Confuse the pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) and invitation to tender (ITT) phases. The PQQ is about selection criteria and shortlisting: The focus is backward-looking, so you need to demonstrate your credentials as a company before getting the chance to bid. The ITT is forward-looking and focuses on how you will seek to perform the contract
  • Ignore the word count or fail to fill in any part of the tender document
  • Submit stock corporate sales material and standard copy
  • Include bold statements that cannot be backed up with evidence
  • Introduce inappropriate or ill-prepared people: If you are invited to undertake or receive a presentation, your representatives should be well versed in the requirement and in your company, be presentable and affable
  • Submit your tender late, even by a minute
  • Forget to inform your nominated referees, as this gives a poor impression and you may even end up with a bad reference

Philip Norman is founder and MD of Bidbetter, a local business which wins public sector contracts (with 100% success winning places on framework agreements) for large and small businesses. He was previously a CIPS-qualified public procurement professional. For public sector bidding advice, email or visit