BD tips and insights

Winning government clients: key tender issues and trends

Australian government at any level is an attractive client for professional services firms. Commonwealth, State and Local Government agencies and departments are increasingly astute buyers, so to be successful in winning government clients, you need to be aware of key issues and trends which reflect the power, accountability, and cultural set of the public sector.

Key issues for winning government as a client

For professional and expert services providers to win government tenders and work effectively with agencies, it’s essential to demonstrate strong understanding of strategic drivers, public sector culture and values, and cost-effectiveness. A tender to government cannot win unless gets past procurement. To do this your submission must:

  • meet all mandatory criteria
  • answer all questions, as asked
  • be careful about quality of written expression and presentation values
  • use clear examples and statistics rather than just making claims
  • demonstrate your firm’s unique and differentiated approach
  • be sensitive to probity and transparency of process.

Business to government

Some key selling arguments and winning themes to weave into your tender responses to government agencies might include:

  • accountability to stakeholders
  • effectiveness and appropriateness of services
  • pro bono contribution (for law firms)
  • sensitivity to community concerns
  • balancing interests
  • process transparency and procedural fairness
  • probity, ethics, and privacy
  • alignment of interests
  • freedom of information
  • overall costs and value for money beyond “cheap”
  • recognising superordinate goals
  • contestability.

Trends to be aware of if you want to win government tenders

Full-scale open tendering by individual agencies has declined in popularity for many reasons, including the magnitude of evaluation processes.

The current landscape of government procurement is characterised by selective tendering, multi-use lists, and requests for quote from pre-approved providers. While these approaches save resources and time (for tenderers and evaluators), they also present special challenges.

There are many tales and horror stories of recent public sector tenders that reveal the new competitive hoops through which professional services firms must jump. These include crafting responses to long and complex hypotheticals or “scenarios”, demands for highly specific evidence of capability, onerous reporting regimes, and amazingly detailed reference checking.

Another big trend in government tenders has been “informed purchaser” training and up-skilling of agency personnel who engage and manage external service providers. Meaning it is harder than ever to close sales with these increasingly sophisticated and demanding buyers.

Make sure you’re ready and resourced to deal with the impact of the key trends and to respond to government concerns when writing your tender, and you’ll be in a strong position to retain or acquire an attractive and prestigious client.

Check out our handy overview of the different tender types.

And consider JMA’s tender benchmarking service to help your firm position and prepare for your next tender to government, or please get in touch.

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