Go ahead... underestimate me

I was approached recently by an organisation that wanted to tender with me for a skills development program interstate. They are a large training organisation with the backing of a university, so I was quite chuffed that they got in contact. And the program is in my niche – tendering.

So, I suggested a Joint Venture – their track record with the client, their stakeholder engagement person, and my team as the subject matter experts. But all they saw was a new small business (as most of you know, I only founded Tender Plus Skills last year). Their strategy was to play to their size and existing track record and just wack my name in as one of the CVs because of the Diploma I designed. That’s what they offered, and I turned it down (much to their surprise).

And the result? They ended up with another competitor in the field. I found another partner, completely willing to enter into a win-win arrangement and tendered against them, even though I had no intention of doing so prior to their approach. But hey, they underestimated me, and it peeved me.

Underestimating your competitors or offering a partnership which does not represent a win-win for both partners is a mistake made by many companies when tendering. It most commonly results in lesser bids and lost opportunity. In this case it led to an even more competitive field.

It’s happened twice now on bids the Tender Plus team has been involved on to Defence.

Most people in the industry talk about Defence as “risk adverse” and “hard to crack”. Often companies tendering underestimate their competitors because they have the existing track record and experience that Defence “wants”. But Defence is a multi-faceted animal with many different decision makers, influencers and drivers. It proved that in both of these instances.

In one, Defence awarded the contract to a first-time player on Defence construction work, but with an inventive methodology. In the other, a race seemingly between the incumbent and a JV with combined track record and Defence experience, they awarded it to a third tenderer. The supposed “underdog” did not underestimate their competitors, worked through every element of their solution until it was the right one, and came out on top.