By Steve Engelhardt, Certified SCORE Mentor
This is part 1 of a series…
Recently, SCORE received a request for help from a small business client that wanted help with competitive bidding. In an article this size, it will be impossible to do justice to an issue that takes hours to learn to do effectively, but maybe some tips will help.
Everyone, who has not had experience, in competitive bidding, assumes the lowest price will get the deal but that is frequently not the case. Competitive bidding bid is designed to select the “lowest priced qualified” vendor, not just the lowest price. An example of this would be a bid for a government wants a road grader, which must be delivered within 90 days after the contract is awarded to meet a seasonal need. But if the lowest cost bidder cannot deliver for 180 days, he is judged to be not qualified, and his bid is disqualified.
Therefore, the answering of the questions contained in the bid is critical. Typically bids are developed by the purchaser with a ranking system where points are assigned to each question and weighted according to importance. For example saying a product is not made in the U.S. when that was clearly stated as a requirement may cause disqualification. Saying you can’t deliver for 45 days, when 30 were asked for, may not be fatal to the bid. But you have, to be honest, being caught not answering truthfully may cause you to not only be disqualified from this bid but all future ones as well.
And now the dirty little secret of bidding.
If you just sit in your office and wait for a bid to arrive in the mail, you are probably not going to win it. While you were sitting in your office, your competitor was in the purchaser’s office. Your competitor was in there to influence the way the questions were written. For example, if a bid says the job requires a 50 gal. pump, when you know it only needs a 25 gal. pump and that is the largest one you sell; that means your competitor was in there and convinced them of that knowing that he would be eliminating you as a competitor. It is extremely hard to change a bid once it is written and if you have not been helping to influence the writing portion, you may be eliminated before you even get a chance to bid.
Learning to be a successful competitive bidder can be done, and SCORE would like to help. Please feel free to contact us to have a qualified Mentor contact you and begin helping you with this import sales channel.
Whatever your question, SCORE mentors have been there and can help you. Click here to schedule an appointment with a SCORE Mentor.
Steve Engelhardt has had an extensive career in high-tech sales of computers, software and related equipment and systems and very skilled at government and competitive bidding. His client list has included Boeing, Bank of America, Best Buy and other Fortune 500 and Fortune 50 companies. It has also included government, non-profit and mom and pop businesses.