Failure is an inevitable part of tendering.

Companies who have a 100% success rate are few and far between. They are, to say the least, probably very lucky. It is very unlikely that you will win every tender you bid for. In fact, around 98% of well-established companies will tell you about a time they failed at tendering.

There are many things that might have let you down. That’s why it’s  indicative of the complexity of tender evaluation, and the number of factors involved therein. But, no matter the reason for your misstep this time around, it is important to identify your mistakes. Then, you can act on them so that they do not let you down or contribute to a failure next time. Indeed, it is important to take control of whatever might have gone wrong and nip it in the bud for the future.

Many public sector organisations are now obliged to provide a good amount of clear and detailed feedback as part of their evaluations to justify why your submission has not been successful. This is great news for suppliers as they can act on this feedback to better their chances next time.

Some key things to remember and implement regarding feedback, are as follows:

Understand and implement

Feedback is all well and good but useless unless it is digested and acted upon. You need to understand the key reasons as to why you were unsuccessful and the areas in which you need to improve. This will be translated clearly in numerical scores using a ratio of Quality & Pricing. For example, if you score 32% out of 60% for quality but 40% out of 40% for cost – this shows you were the cheapest supplier but were lacking in your technical responses.

Look at the data

Use the scores the buyer provides you with. For example, if out of the 60% maximum score for quality, a major section of this was a ‘Contract Management’ question and you scored only 21% out of a possible 60, this suggests your contract management arrangements lack innovation and fundamental traits compared to those of the winner, including, for example, the lack of an efficient management information system.


It is a good idea to break down any and all feedback you receive into a number of succinct points that can each be summed up in a word or phrase to allow you to precisely identify your individual mistakes, missteps and errors. For example, you might receive the following from the buyer:

We felt that in the quality responses section that your answers contained enough factual errors and typing/grammatical mistakes to warrant a deduction in points for this section overall. Moreover, we felt that in many of the questions your precision was lacking, and key information was clouded behind largely useless rhetoric.”

Don’t be put off by harsh-sounding feedback; rather, digest the information and break it down to identify each individual misstep, precisely, and in plain English, to help you understand exactly where you went wrong. In this case, the feedback could be broken down as follows:

Factual errors

Next time: Check stats, facts and figures multiple times before submitting.

Typos and grammar

Next time: Proofread submission and check for spelling and grammar.


Next time: Answer each question directly without superfluous information.

Common themes/Patterns

Identify any patterns forming in the feedback you are receiving. Are the same criticisms coming up time and time again? Ask yourself, if this is the case, then why? What could be done to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen?


Do not be afraid to ask for further detail or clarification. If you are not sure, or disagree, ask! Use feedback to your advantage and encourage them to gain as much feedback as possible. If you only receive scores out of 100, ask for qualitative feedback to why the winner was successful and you weren’t. You might even be able to get feedback as to the winner’s score, and a breakdown as to why exactly they received this score/what they did to merit it.


Make sure an internal meeting is held with key members of your staff, in order to collaborate and discuss improvements where necessary. Companywide idea generation sessions help massively to ensure a firmer approach and wider understanding of what’s needed to work better.


Undergo regular sustainability reviews to ensure improvements are fully established across your organisation. In light of the improvements you have made, ask yourselves: Have we implemented more innovative approaches? How do we compare to our competitors now? Can we write better responses now?

DO NOT Blame

You should never operate a ‘blame culture’ within your organisation. Not only will that upset staff and ignite resentment but will likely damage your efforts of improvements going forward. When tendering, if you win together, you have to lose together also. One of the most important things about tendering is making sure your colleagues are proofreading and checking EVERYTHING before submission. The more eyes, the better! If you find that a mistake was made by a member of your team which had huge effects on your succession of the work, then this should be an issue that was missed by the whole team and treated with solidarity, to effectively improve. Blaming helps nobody.

Remember- we offer a Tender Consultancy service to support the development and even review your work prior to submission. Get in touch by clicking here, if you need further support with managing those all-important opportunities and implementing feedback effectively!