How SMEs can maximise their tendering potential

In my experience, SME’s submitting tender documents tend to be time-short, meaning things don’t always go the way they hoped.

There’s so much competition in the marketplace with everybody offering the same service that it’s important for SME’s to show prospective clients how they are different from the rest of the crowd, without it hindering their current workload.

In my role as chief executive of NE Procurement, I’m often asked how SMEs can be better when it comes to tenders, so I’ve devised seven top tips that I think everybody can relate to:


  1. Firstly, research your tender responses for the previous 12 months to identify any trends in the success, or otherwise, of submissions. If your offer is price driven then you should work hard to win tenders with higher pricing scores but if you offer a service driven solution then don’t chase price driven tenders – you’ve got to be efficient with your time and resources.

  2. Secondly, take time to thoroughly read the requirements of the tender document and answer specifically what is asked of you. If you are unsure of anything, it won’t hurt to ask for clarification. It’s important to ensure you fully understand the requirements so you can provide an appropriate response, failure to do so can quickly put you out of the running.

  3. Thirdly, make sure you accurately assess the requirements around the price, product and service required in the tender. Only ever offer them what they’ve asked for – tenders are often lost by bidders adding in an addition which they believe would give benefit and improve their bid, when really it has no value to the contracting organisation and was never requested.

  4. The content in the tender response should always be clear and direct, nobody has time for waffling. You must always be able to justify and answer any queries about your submission professionally and with credibility- doing so will enhance your reputation.

  5. Check, double check and triple check your spelling and figures.  It’s surprising how many tenders are dismissed due to something as simple as a spelling mistake or numbers not adding up.  You don’t want to give a bad impression or reduce your credibility over something so small.

  6. If your bid is unsuccessful always ask for feedback, otherwise how will you know where you went wrong? To ensure you improve you need to know what to change in order to deliver more successful submissions in the future.

  7. Finally, always develop your own business case for the tender project making sure you can resource, fund and make profit from your submission otherwise, why bother? It’s a simple case of not making promises you can’t keep. If you can’t resource and fund the submission you are more likely to cut corners to reduce cost which means your performance will likely suffer, ruining your chances of winning work in the future and damaging your reputation and relationship with the organisation.


If you are in the process of submitting a tender at the moment then good luck! Bids and tenders really aren’t as complicated as some people make out, you just need to read the documents thoroughly, carefully prepare your response and tell the client about your business. If you do that, you have every chance of succeeding.