How to avoid these common tendering mistakes
Bidding isn't always error-free. But circling back to the basics is an effective strategy to avoid some of the most common tendering mistakes.

Tendering requires time, effort, and a sharp eye for detail. Although regularly working on bids and proposals may give you heaps of experience to handle the next request, mistakes are inevitable. Circling back to the basics is an effective strategy to avoid the errors that often occur repeatedly. Here are some of the most common tendering mistakes and how to avoid them.

Too much fluff or fillers

Your proposal is one among several that the procurement team will be reviewing. While it’s true your prospect wants to see your skills and capabilities, they don’t want details that sidetrack them from the question that’s been asked. Unnecessary or irrelevant information within your tender response can put you in more trouble than you may think. Not only does this add to your response creation time, but it also fails to impress the procurement team. Fillers and fluff also take up unnecessary space, making your response wordy and vague. Make sure your content is to the point. It’s important to avoid drifting away toward information that is not required or relevant. Examples of fillers or fluff include wild claims, meaningless marketing, and assertions without context or value.

Using passive voice

One of the most common tendering mistakes is the use of passive voice. It often becomes a reason for your prospect to feel disconnected to the message you’re trying to convey. Active voice is direct and tends to provide more compact information. It puts more emphasis on the action being taken rather than the one benefitting from that action. It’s a good idea to avoid passive voice as much as possible and help your prospect retain the information you want them to. Consider the following example:

  • We provided XYZ with a solution for financial management. (Active voice)
  • XYZ was provided a solution by us for financial management. (Passive voice)

The first sentence emphasises that you provided a financial management solution for XYZ. The second sentence puts the reader’s attention to XYZ as the recipient of the solution. The process of winning business involves selling your capabilities to the procurement team. If your response does not emphasise the value you bring, your prospect may feel detached from your answers.

Not providing strong examples

Many tender questions ask for examples. These can be questions that require demonstrated experience of similar projects or community service. But some questions may only ask for a “yes” or “no” along with a description. The idea here is to make sure you have answered in full and addressed the requirement. Best practice is to assume your prospect knows nothing about your organisation and capabilities. This leads to the use of clear and concise examples that provide enough background to your explanation, making it easy to absorb the context. You don’t have to go out on a limb by plugging in more than what’s required. But a few solid, concise examples are always the best way to make a point, especially when the question asks for “how” you will be able to fulfil their requirements.

Not following the response template

A critical part of the bid response process is to follow the instructions set out in the bid request. If you have been asked to answer within a pre-defined template, your response document should include the exact template complete with its original formatting. Double-check that nothing has been left out when copying the template to your official letterhead. All questions and tables within the template should match. It’s a good idea to cross-reference with any instructions provided on completing the response template.

Not preparing in advance

We all know how important it is to have a project schedule in place with a tight grip on timelines and deliverables. Rushing to complete your bid is often a sign of being unprepared. To avoid this situation, your planning and preparation should begin early on, ideally before the bid is even launched. Knowing the tendering industry, time is of the essence. You can do yourself a huge favor by keeping track of project deadlines and submission due dates from the day you decide to bid through to completion.


Using the fundamental principles of tendering can help you create a response that satisfies the procurement team. It’s not always about a beautiful template, vibrant visuals, or loads of content to beef up your answers to tender questions. In fact, a little effort toward getting the basics right can go a long way! If you’ve made mistakes in past bids, take note of your lessons learned. Try to avoid these common errors so your tender response precisely mirrors the information asked in the request document. We hope you’ve enhanced your knowledge on creating effective tender strategies and thus producing the most befitting responses to tender questions.
Happy bidding!

Related articles
Crafting a winning Cover Letter: a key element in bids and proposals

In the competitive landscape of bids and proposals, one often-overlooked gem can make all the difference: the cover letter.

By Tender Relief
3 mins read19/07/2024
Government Tenders - Resources to Help You Win

This blog shares insights and resources on competing for government tenders and how you can secure more wins.

By Tender Relief
6 mins read19/07/2024
Win or Lose – You can benefit from both with a lessons learned review

Losing a bid can be difficult, but there's a lot to learn from post-award tender debrief guidelines. Here are some tips to get you started.

By Tender Relief
4 mins read19/07/2024