BD tips and insights

Playing the long game to get on the list for invitation only tenders

August 13, 2014 | Posted in: Win Tenders Bids Proposals | Tags:

Playing-long-gameWe’re often asked how firms can get on the list for “by invitation only” tenders. If the tender request is already out, sometimes a cheeky approach direct to the procurement powers can work.


Usually it doesn’t.

So how can you and your firm make it on to the radar of these large consumers of professional services?

Unfortunately, there are no easy short cuts.

How to play the long game for invitation only tenders

To pursue the ideal work you really want, with dream clients, you need to be prepared to play the long game. And the long game goes something like this:

  • Pick the organisation or organisations that you want to work for.
  • Look for ways to get to know them – where do they hang out?
  • Identify their issues and concerns, and what you can do to solve them.
  • Use your contacts to gain introductions to the right people.
  • Provide them with substantial, relevant and genuinely helpful thought leadership pieces (not just a copy of your firm newsletter).
  • Network with key people at professional and industry events.
  • Join and participate in LinkedIn groups and discussions, or other online forums, in which they are active.
  • If you can get some “off-panel” pieces of work, it goes without saying that you need to do an excellent job – and use the opportunity to demonstrate the great benefits of working with you (this is and has always been the easiest and best sell).

The long game can take a few years. Yes, years. But don’t be put off, because when the procurement cycle comes up again, the time and effort you have invested will give you a much greater chance of being invited to tender. The perception (and reality) you’ve built up with that prospective client is that you’re an expert in the field who’s great to work with.

Much of this advice also goes for publicly advertised tenders and for unsolicited capability statements. No matter the circumstance, if you have no relationship with, or real insight into, the tendering organisation, then what you can offer will be fairly superficial and untargeted; hardly appealing to evaluators and prospective clients.

The long game is simple to learn, but difficult to master. If your organisation needs assistance with planning and coaching to position for invitations from desirable clients, please get in touch.

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