Are Non-Mandatory Tender Briefings Worth The Effort?

There’s no escaping the compliance driven nature of tendering. It’s a simple fact that some elements of the tender response process are mandatory.

As a supplier, this may create the impression that anything the buyer classifies as non-mandatory is not important.

However, this is a matter of perspective.

While the buyer may consider something non-mandatory, that doesn’t mean you should too.

One common example is the offer to attend a ‘non-mandatory briefing’. These usually occur at the outset of a procurement project and are designed to provide an informal overview, allowing potential suppliers to orient themselves to the buyer organisation and the specifics of the project in question, as well as ask questions.

While you might feel that a few extra hours working on your submission would be more valuable than attending a non-mandatory meeting – resist the temptation to skip these briefings.

Why? Because in doing so, you are giving up the opportunity to collect valuable information that may be helpful when preparing your submission.

Non-mandatory briefings are a perfect opportunity to:

Gain extra insight.

Briefings can be a chance for buyers to identify and reinforce what is truly important to them. You may pick up subtle cues about themes that are under-represented in the formal documentation. Be alert to verbal and non-verbal clues. At the very least, treat non-mandatory briefings as an opportunity to check that your understanding of the buyer’s needs is correct, up-to-date and as nuanced as possible.

Scope the competition.

Use briefings as an opportunity to benefit from other attendees. Pay close attention to get a good sense of who you’re up against. If you’re feeling bold, enter the room last and take a photo of the sign-in sheet. Keep an ear out for good questions you may not have thought of and for any information that may provide clues about the buyer’s decision making drivers. Also, sometimes seeing what questions your competitors don’t ask can provide strong insights.

Convey commitment.

Your attendance at non-mandatory briefings can be a clear signal to the buyer that the opportunity is important to you – important enough for you to make it a priority in your day. You may wish to prepare an insightful question or two but be mindful that your competitors are also watching you closely.

So next time you are offered a ‘non-mandatory’ briefing, be sure to register. You never know what additional knowledge you might gain.

Attending can provide you with that extra winning edge. Or, it may even save you valuable time by confirming that the opportunity is not the right fit for your organisation – leading to a no-bid decision.


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