The most depressing sentence in the English language (with the possible exception of, “I sentence you to death.”) is probably, “Sorry, you came a close second”.
Tendering and pitching are both art and science. The nuts and bolts of the proposition need to be right: people, price, sector experience, location, structural and financial robustness, and so on. But though clients think they buy professional services analytically, to a surprising extent still they buy with their hearts. Many great propositions have been shredded because the pitch team failed to demonstrate empathy, a clear understanding of client need and their personalities.
Too often, the language of tender responses is arid and stilted. It generates in the reader less a feeling of inspiration and enthusiasm than a loss of the will to live.
In almost 30 years as my firm’s senior partner, I was involved in countless tenders, leading our team at every stage from securing the initial invitation, to writing and presenting our proposals. We had a remarkably high success rate.
Today, I work closely with my clients’ pitch teams on major tenders; I provide strategic advice on overall approach and pricing, am involved extensively in drafting, provide presentation training and give the team support at every stage of the process. The hit rate remains gratifyingly high.