Common ITT errors to avoid

ITTs open the door to new opportunities. But silly mistakes can scupper your chances of success. There’s no ‘golden bullet’ that will guarantee you win every ITT you respond to. However, in this article we highlight five common mistakes clients make and show you how to avoid them.

Author: Liz Clarke

Five steps to making the most of each ITT opportunity

Bidding for business opportunities through an ITT process isn’t anything new and can open the door to fabulous opportunities. But it can also be time consuming and tricky to get right.

Invitations to Tender (aka bids or tenders) often have to be completed by the business owner with the help of their team. It’s extremely rare, except in large organisations, to have dedicated staff for this kind of work and even then, they rely heavily on the wider staff for the raw information needed to meet the requirements of the ITT. When you work in an owner managed business bidding for opportunities is something that’s done on top of the day job.

The cost of compiling a bid can quickly run into thousands of pounds of staff time – sometimes even tens of thousands depending on the complexity of the ITT. And it’s all done ‘at risk’ because responding to ITTs is an investment that might never lead to anything.

Whilst there’s no ‘golden bullet’ that will guarantee you win every ITT you respond to, there are common (and avoidable) mistakes that will harm your chances of success.

Below are five common ITT mistakes and how to avoid them.

Check you understand the requirements

ITTs vary in size, complexity and the client’s requirements.

The first thing to do when you receive the ITT, is take some time to properly understand the requirements. By this, we are talking about:

  • the requirements of the project or work you are bidding for,
  • the requirements within the contract, and
  • the ITT return requirements.

Believe it or not you could lose a bid simply because you’ve used the wrong size font, relied on using links or marketing material that have been explicitly excluded for use in the instructions, exceeded the word count or failed to answer a question that was ‘not applicable’ to you.

It’s likely there will be specific instructions regarding how your return should be submitted and, whilst most are now submitted electronically, don’t assume that’s always the case.

Equally, if you haven’t taken the time to properly understand the employer’s requirements within their ITT documentation you could drop vital points by not ensuring your response addresses their priorities. It’s good practice to create ‘answer plans’ making note of the key things you need to mention in your response before you start writing your answer.

Answer the questions concisely

As mentioned above, many ITTs will stipulate word limits for some questions in order to avoid having to trawl through lengthy, rambling pages of text. It’s important that you don’t exceed the word count whilst also including enough information to fully address the questions.

When compiling your responses make it easy for those evaluating your return to find the information for each question. Use examples of clients or projects that relate to the ITT and, if possible, client testimonials and images.

It might sound obvious but spelling and grammar matters. When the client is evaluating several bids, the ones that are well written and presented will stand out against the competition. Clients will often remember silly mistakes and this ruins reputations.

Using a copywriter can be beneficial as they are adept at pulling out the most salient information to create compelling copy. All too often business owners, or their teams, get too bogged down wanting to explain the nitty gritty and lose impact as a result> With stringent word limits you have to make every word count.

Site visits and clarifications

Depending on the type of contract you are bidding for, you may have the opportunity for a site visit. If you do – take it. It will give you the opportunity to see, first hand, what you are dealing with and to start forming a relationship with the client.

What’s more, a site visit will help you to accurately assess what the project needs from you and whether you need to raise any clarifications.

Speaking of clarifications – there will usually be a deadline for the submission of clarifications to the client. The answers are then shared with all potential bidders to ensure everyone has the same information on which to base their return.

Price it carefully

This is a biggy! Most ITTs will be subjected to a weighted scoring process for cost and quality. And the harsh reality is that even the highest quality submission may lose if they don’t price the job properly.

If the client hasn’t provided a pricing document (usually a spreadsheet that requires a line-by-line breakdown of your price for delivering the contract), you may want to create one of your own.

When ITT returns are evaluated it is equally possible that an outlying low-priced bid might be subject to additional scrutiny by the client. This is perfectly normal as they want to be satisfied that you really can deliver at the price you have quoted and won’t scrimp on quality or ask for more money later on.

Deadlines are not movable

It might sound obvious but take note of deadlines for things like clarifications and the final submission so that you plan your bid creation timetable properly. Deadlines aren’t (usually) movable and you may be disqualified for just being a minute late.

Give yourself plenty of time for a thorough and critical review of your answers so you can be confident you are submitting your best possible response. If the submission is being uploaded to a portal, allow time for tech hiccups. ITT returns can include large files that take time to upload and we’ve all felt the pain of a disastrously timed loss of internet connection!

Find out more about our bid writing services

Writing bids on top of the day job can be a real headache. Not to mention a time-intensive, expensive burden for you or your team.

At Freedom-CS we offer competitive bid writing support aimed at helping you create the best possible submission. In a series of interview-style meetings we gather the crucial information needed to meet the ITT requirements and use it to create succinct, compelling responses showcasing your business capabilities. It takes a lot of legwork away from you!

To find out more about using our bid writing service the next time you need to submit an ITT response, get in touch here.

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