The essential guide to writing winning tenders in a rush

In a perfect world, Requests for Tender (RFTs) arrive when you have nothing else to do, and they give you lots of time to complete them.

Sadly, most often there’s a tight deadline; the RFT is different from previous ones; and you’re simultaneously fire-fighting in your Day Job.

This article outlines the best activities to invest your limited time in, to submit compliant, contract-specific, high-scoring bids at short notice.

1. Get the structure right

Make sure your top-level headings and your subheadings line up with those in the RFT documents. Write something under each heading, and include all the forms they prescribe.

2. Write a strong Executive Summary or Covering Letter

Your covering letter should reassure the evaluators that you understand their priorities; highlight the critical success factors on the contract; and put your case forward logically and powerfully.

3. Inject client focus into key areas

Make sure you highlight what the client is specifically looking for in this contract for this attribute. That’s what they want to hear!

4. Make sure no previous bid names or irrelevant material is left in

Make no mistake – everybody cuts and pastes attribute information: there’s no point reinventing the wheel, especially in a tight deadline situation. But leaving the name of the last contract or principal is a red rag for evaluators and will have you eliminated fast.

5. Check your pricing carefully!

It’s up to you to check that your price is complete and accurate, or you risk losing the job or losing money on it. It’s that simple.


If that’s all you have time for, then throw it all together and submit it on time. However, you can handle short-notice proposals much better, by some simple preparation. Here we suggest some activities to do between tenders, so you’re ready to hit the ground running when the next bid lands.
1. Get feedback on your bids

You should always ask to debrief after the evaluation. Come prepared with specific questions on how you can present a stronger case in your lowest-scoring attributes. If you’re not winning much, then get an independent professional who understands the tendering environment to review one or more recent bids, and make recommendations on how to get better scores.

2. Get training in writing tenders

Even experienced internal bid writers seldom see bids from other companies. Learn about best practice in tendering today from professional specialists.

3. Pull together good tender material

Develop strong base attributes – project descriptions, CVs, Methodology statements. Have covers and tabs designed and printed; so next time, you can deliver a strong, competitive bid document in a jiffy. And boost your win rate!