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How to pitch for formal tenders

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Created by North East Ambition, 5th June 2017


When bidding for work through a formal procurement process, the opportunity to present in person should always be taken - and never underestimated.

In essence, it’s a second chance to create a first impression. No matter what the content of your bid, this is your opportunity to really shine; to demonstrate your ability and your credibility, and to make the sale.

But pitching for formal tenders isn’t always like a ‘typical’ Dragons Den style format.

Preparing to pitch

Some firms choose to adopt a formal template or a script for presentations, but even then, you’ll often be given very precise details about:

What your pitch must cover

  • And how it will be scored. This is your greatest indication of how important different aspects of the opportunity are to them, as buyers. Allocate your time, both in terms of the pitch and the preparation, accordingly.

What materials you can and can’t use

  • To keep formal processes fair, you may not be allowed to add in information at this stage that wasn’t already present in your original bid.

The time limit on your pitch, and how many of your team can be present

  • Make sure someone on the pitch team will also transition to delivering the contract when you win. Particularly for new clients, this will help to control some of the risk for the buyer of appointing you to deliver.
  • Keep absolutely to time – this is vital. If you overrun, they are entitled to stop you at the time limit, and not consider anything else in your presentation. This could lose you far more points than you’ll ever lose from rushing a little.

Remember that in a formal procurement environment, all tenderers must be treated equally, and fairly. Any opportunities given to you will also be given to your competitors.

Delivering the pitch

The basics apply across the board, but their importance can be magnified in an area where there are many rules and regulations to be followed.

Communicate actively

  • Speak slowly and be brief
  • Ask the right questions that identify the client’s needs
  • In a Q&A, listen more than you talk.

Answer their questions openly

  • Find the balance between ‘what they want to know’ and ‘what we want to tell them’.

Don’t SELL at them

  • Remember procurement professionals will not respond well to a sales pitch
  • Don’t make claims you can’t substantiate – ‘the world’s best/only’ must be based on fact or omitted.

Use presentation aids wisely

  • Nobody enjoys 175 PowerPoint slides, no matter how many pretty pictures they contain! Remember they’ll be seeing a lot of pitches – be different
  • Beware of multimedia, especially if sound is needed, and always have a backup if a live internet connection is essential.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

  • Being ‘over-rehearsed’ rarely happens, being under-rehearsed is much more common.

Find a critical friend

  • Find someone to watch a rehearsal of your pitch and find fault with it, as objectively as possible
  • Consider any weaknesses in your pitch and rehearse responses to them. Be realistic, and genuine in your replies.

Above all else, pitch authentically. Give the buyers the very best impression of who you are and what you can do, and that’ll make delivering the contract simple once you win!

Feel like you need more help? Take a look at the support and advice available to North East businesses.

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Created by North East Ambition, 3 years ago, [last edited 3 years ago]

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