Every Tender Already Sewn Up

If the first time you see a tender is when it lands in your inbox, then you will never win it.

A Solution Sales aphorism if ever I heard one.

And don't let the exceptions fooling you into disproving the rule.

If they do miraculously occur (not gonna happen), they won't ever make up for the utter waste of time and effort expended with reward on all the others or refill for the shortfall of the deals you were distracted from pursuing and winning in their place.

No matter how hot the hunch might be.

Recently I've been privy to a trio of such instances.

A current star leading one of The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 no less ruefully said to me;

"all these tenders are not fair".

Picking out particular exasperation for a tender worked on but not won.

Everyone kept saying they had the 'best' bid. Yet he alone kept asking, 'what's our 'in' though'?

There was none. They were late to the party. Aston Martin, the tenderer as it happens, were likely always knowing where they were going before any responses were invited.

He was right. Tenders are always sewn up by somebody beforehand. The issuing of a doc just an exercise. To go through the motions. Give the transparency illusion of 'going to the market'.

Another trap came to me via supermarket Sainsbury's tendering. Again a vendor was not involved pre-issue, but went for it anyway. To compound the mistake, their first reaction upon discussions was that when they felt they had the 'better' option, the goalposts shifted.

I blogged on this earlier in '22 via the enormous UK lottery replacement. The key measure changed mid-bid being the notorious 'risk discount' factor.

In the case above, the frustration was, 'someone's just making up KPIs for the sake of it'.

When informed of their defeat, the reason given was, brace yourself, 'you were two percent higher'. Have you ever heard such rubbish. It ought not be lost on you that no solution bid is ever truly won on 'price'.

The same people also revealed to me another ill that can make things worse for you when belatedly involved. Your bid is plundered to help the one the buyer wants. The phrase they used of which you'll never know, 'look these guys have come up with a good idea, can you do that too?' So take your USPs and give it to their preferred bidder, ie mate, and you are sunk.

Another tale of woe to forewarn you comes from the Middle East. And shows that even the Big Ones fall prey.

In this case, IBM were invited onto a formal government procurement.

The first they knew of it, as is so typical, was when receiving it in all its desktop publishing design agency glory.

The Sales leader knew it was as likely to come home as snow cover the desert.

Yet was compelled from above to bid.

The all-consuming resource drain was a disgrace.

At one stage, nineteen (yes, 19) people were tied up working on responding to the tender.

The bosses fell for the ego appeal of the purchaser. 'Oh please bid, after all the market will need to know you have, it'll be good for you'.

Well, no.

The stance should have been along these lines;

I'm not here to make you look good in your office. Nor help you create a Dutch auction for your incumbent and preferred supplier. So please don't insult my professional integrity by wantonly, disrespectfully, callously wasting my precious time. If you felt we had something to offer, you'd have been in touch when the idea was a twinkle in your eye. Not now.

Your professionalism is always [that should be in caps] better served by looking competent, focused and standing your ground.

Then you must win an internal battle.

Why was this bid not known about in its embryonic stages?

And how do we make sure we know about these throughout our target market when the typical moment of gestation seeds?

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