Bidding - how to get on tender lists
Updated: Mar 15
LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and became the leading social media network for business. Facebook came into being in 2004. Within a few years Social Media marketing emerged as a method to gain sales but how applicable is it to construction and should construction businesses rely upon it to gain work?
As with any marketing, the promotion of your businesses must use a route which will engage with your potential customers. There are essentially four types of customer. Business to Business (B2B), and Business to Consumer (B2C) for both products, and services. In construction the B2C market is the domestic customer market. As domestic customers are likely to have a Facebook account, then social media marketing is likely to work, especially if area and demographic targeting is used. For non-domestic construction, customers are very unlikely to be using Facebook as a method to select who they procure from. So, despite what some social media marketers tell you, you will be wasting your time, if this is your market.
To find the most appropriate method of gaining work in the non-domestic construction market you must consider what the features of the sector are which will help to formulate a robust solution. Those in the sector will recognise that:
· Few organisations buy
· It is highly fragmented
· Each project is unique
· It is a service industry
· Lowest price usually wins
· It’s a cyclical sector
Taking these features, it becomes apparent that to secure profitable work: cost, relationships and knowledge of the market, must be perfectly aligned to ensure only profitable work is secured.
For a business to be able to secure work which is profitable the organisation structure and capabilities will need to be matched to the work being undertaken. There is no point in bidding work which you are overqualified for, you will be bidding against leaner businesses. There is no point in bidding if you will incur costs for working out of area, more local providers will have the edge. Aim to bid work you are good at and have a track record in.
To expand your portfolio of work either do new services with customers you already work with or gain new customers with the type of work you are known for. Either of these routes are a good way to expand your portfolio without incurring high risks.
Before you consider bidding any project be brutally honest with yourselves and decide if you have a reasonable chance of winning it or not. Ask yourself if the bidding resources could be better employed on something else. Having a robust “Bid-no-Bid” policy cuts out waste and will enable the staff in business development to focus on the right targets.
Finding the clients who match your requirements is not easy. This is where relationships play their role. Ideally, you should know the players in your part of the market well and be aware of projects before they come to market. This way you have time to plan and formulate well considered bids. But until you are in this situation you will have to segment the leads which match your ideal target profile from lead generations sources such as Barbour ABI, Glenigan, Planning Pipe or Builders Conference. Then with the leads, identify your priorities and start making contact via mutual acquaintances or carefully considered cold telephone calls followed up with an engaging email containing good quality information. LinkedIn can be used for the initial engagement with some people, but be warned, unsuitable engagement will not result in the desired outcome, so watch how people use it before plunging in. Building the relationship takes time but ultimately will lead to opportunities if the research was well founded. To keep track of the leads, and follow ups, the use of a CRM is recommended, as this will help drive a standardised workflow and help identify what works with your target market.
Those people who you contact will ultimately start to research you. So, make sure what you are telling them is supported appropriately. They will look at your website, look at your LinkedIn business page profile, check your credit ratings and ask around in the market about your performance. If you can arrange for them to meet with advocates of your service, then a virtuous circle of opportunities will emerge. Because construction usually involves a high capital spend, these sorts of relationships will be face to face. Don’t be taken in by the social marketing marketers that they can perform wonders, unless you are in the domestic market.
If your business strategy is to bid public sector projects you commence by registering on the Government portal https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder. Once registered you will be notified when contracts are available to bid which meet the criteria you specified. When you see a Prior Information Notice (PIN) which meets your Bid-No-Bid requirements, you register your interest, by completing the Expression of Interest (EOI). Having returned the EOI you will be notified when the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) will be available. You complete the PQQ and if you are above the cut off level then you can be “selected” to tender. You will be informed of the success by being issued with an Invitation to Tender (ITT). The “Award” of the project will be made to the bidder who submits the highest scoring ITT.
The public sector procurement process is very controlled and engagement during it can only be carried out as specified. Given the timescales it is worth being in the “know” before the PIN is issued, so you have as much prepared as possible before the official start. The advantage of the formality is that you will be bidding against businesses of a similar standing and there is a requirement for formal feedback on your bid, which will help with subsequent bids.
If you want to find out more about getting on more construction tender lists or help with any of the following components which will help make you successful, please contact me using one of the methods below.
1. Setting up your management accounts to identifying your most valuable customers
2. Establishing a Bid-no-Bid policy
3. Preparing a contact list
4. Setting up a CRM
5. Establishing a bidding library of case studies and key information
6. Registering on the government portals
7. Completing an OJEU submission
8. Updating webpage to reflect your ideal target market.