Complete Tenders: The Blog

Buyer Feedback

Learning from buyer feedback

Monday 25 October, 2021

In the same way that good products evolve in response to customer feedback, a good tender should evolve and improve by listening to what the customer (the buyer) is really looking for. 

Here is a critical insight into listening and learning from your tender experiences and improving your contract win rate as a result:

When a public sector tender is awarded, the buyer (i.e. the commissioning authority) is duty bound to notify each bidder of their decision – informing them of their success or otherwise. A formal notification letter issued by the buyer to all bidders at the outcome stage should provide your score, broken down into quality and price if applicable, the winner’s score, feedback on your tender and the buyer’s reasons for their decision (in line with their evaluation methodology). To a greater or lesser extent, feedback can also be provided on the relative advantages of the winning bid. Whether you are successful or not, you can learn valuable information from this stage of the process because the buyer will have reviewed and scored your response.

Request and read buyer feedback

Whilst your initial reaction is likely to be disappointment if you find you were unsuccessful, always take the time to read the feedback from the buyer and look back over each of your responses to understand where they may have been lacking. The quality of the feedback provided can vary enormously between buyers, from a not-very-helpful statement such as “winning bidder included more detail” to several paragraphs detailing exactly where you lost marks or how your response could have been improved.

If the buyer hasn’t been forthcoming with their feedback, you are entitled to ask them for more information or for a feedback/de-briefing session to take place. The buyer may not always agree to it, but a discussion over the phone or via video conference can be an excellent way to obtain more feedback as you can ask follow-up questions.  Some authorities may be more reluctant to offer a feedback session if they have faced disgruntled or argumentative bidders, so its good to outline in your request that you’re not asking for a fight, you just want the constructive feedback!    

Obtaining feedback is vital and learning from it will make the difference in your next tender, so don’t let one negative outcome deter you from trying again. Whilst you may not be asked exactly the same question next time, chances are there will be one at least similar to which you can add material and strengthen with the comments and reaction provided. The next buyer is also likely be different, maybe with a slightly different slant on things, so persistence will pay off in the long run. 

Utilising the buyer feedback also applies if you won the tender. The responses may have scored more highly than your competition this time, but you should still make every effort to improve them the next time – after all, your competitors will be using the feedback they have received (in relation to you as the winning bidder) to improve their responses.

Learn from buyer feedback

Below are some examples of helpful buyer feedback and the changes that can be made to your next tender response. The feedback may also mean that you need to make some changes to the value propositions or systems and processes within your company, and some examples of these are also included.

Feedback Changes to be made
Good response but no reference to environmental credentials on equipment. Include environmental credentials next time a question asks about equipment. This feedback also implies that this is an important topic, so include environmental considerations in any narrative around equipment selection for example. As a business, review your equipment for its environmental impact – do you need to make changes?

The response could potentially have been improved by: 

- Further detail about what has improved within processes within the practice and how such improvements are monitored.

Include examples of previous process improvements and detail of how improvements are monitored. 

Ensure you have a process in place to document this so these examples are easy to find in the future.

The response could potentially have been improved by: 

- Expanding on how safeguarding is implemented in practice.

Include an example of ‘real-life’ safeguarding practice.

Review whether your Safeguarding Policy is thorough enough.
Not enough examples of how feedback is used to improve service.

Include more examples of when feedback has been used to improve the service. 

If you’re not already tracking this as a business, put a process in place to do so. Do you have enough mechanisms to capture feedback?

Minor reservations:

- Lack of detail on staff roles and responsibilities.

Ensure staff roles and responsibilities are fully outlined in the next tender, giving examples of key relevant projects and experience for each staff member.

Review whether all staff roles and responsibilities are up to date and accurate.

Of course, you may also receive positive feedback from the buyer on your tender. In addition to basking in the warm glow that this may provide, it helps to understand what the buyer really liked so you can be sure to include it next time. For example, “Covers thoroughly the entire approach, excellent benefits and evidence of innovation,” lets you know that you answered the question thoroughly, explained how it will benefit the buyer, and backed it up with evidence.

Winning Contracts


To find out more about how we can help you with your tender writing visit our Tender Writing page or call us on 01707 244713.

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