Navigating the public sector tender process

Do you find bidding for government or public sector contracts very difficult, or just stay away from them all together because they seem impossible to navigate? Contrary to popular belief, winning a public sector contract is not as hard as it seems. With a good understanding of how the tendering process works and a clear strategy in place, it can be relatively painless.

Below, Winning Tenders, a Poole-based company specialising in winning tenders (mainly for SMEs), have put together a quick checklist of dos and don’ts to help you navigate the public sector tender process. Good luck!:


  • Complete the tender in full and do exactly what is asked of you
  • Complete the tender in a particular format, if asked to do so
  • Contact the buyer if you are unclear of any aspects of the tender
  • Be creative – work out your USP and make your response relevant to the requirement
  • Price at a point that is sustainable for your business
  • Submit your tender 24 hours prior to the deadline
  • If you’re unsure, you can hire a consultant, such as Winning Tenders, to help you complete your bid


  • Go for contracts that you cannot fulfil
  • Confuse the Selection Questionnaire (SQ) and invitation to tender (ITT) phases. The SQ is about selection criteria and shortlisting. The focus is backward-looking, so you need to demonstrate your credentials as a company before getting the chance to bid. The ITT is forward-looking and focuses on how you will seek to perform the contract
  • Ignore the word count or fail to fill in any part of the tender document
  • Submit stock corporate sales material and standard copy
  • Include bold statements that cannot be backed up with evidence
  • Introduce inappropriate or ill-prepared people. If you are invited to undertake or receive a presentation, your representatives should be well versed in the requirement and in your company, be presentable and affable
  • Submit your tender late, even by a minute
  • Forget to inform your nominated referees, as this gives a poor impression and you may even end up with a bad reference.

Philip Norman is founder and MD of Winning Tenders, a local business which wins public sector contracts for large and small businesses (with a very high success rate winning places on framework agreements). He was previously a CIPS-qualified public procurement professional and worked for the NHS and Scottish Government setting up large, public sector procurements.

For more public sector bidding advice, follow Winning Tenders on LinkedIn or to find out more about them, visit their website at

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.