Maximise your chances of being invited to tender by adopting the
following best practice as outlined in NCVO's Introductory Guide to Procurement and
Identifying potential purchasers
Before considering tendering for contractsthird
sectororganisations need to understand who their potential
purchasers are and how they identify and choose suppliers.
A useful starting point for identifying potential purchasers
- Local partnerships, committees and strategic forums
- Approaching a public sector organisation directly
- Internet searches - online supplier portals such as www.sell2wales.co.uk
- Local authority websites for further information on their
- 'Meet the buyer' events
- Inspection reports - produced by inspection bodies such as the
Audit Commission they highlight key issues and failures in both
public service and procurement practice
Information to help inform the tender process includes:
- Which public sector bodies buy the kind of goods or services
- How much do they spend?
- How often do they award contracts?
- How does a preferred public sector body buy a particular good
- Does it purchase centrally or directly in separate
- Who are the current service providers?
- How long have they been providing the service?
Third sector organisations should contact their local County
Voluntary Council (CVC) or contacts in the public sector to
gather this information. Alternatively, it is worth looking at
contract notices that appear in the press or online. Monitor local
authority websites, trade directories or phone them direct to
identify the key people in the purchasing process.
Marketing goods or services
It is essential that your organisation builds a reputation for
delivering consistent, high quality services. There are a number of
routes that might help you to market your goods or services to the
- Provider, supplier and tender lists- some public sector
organisations such as social care, health, children's services and
education place contracts with their own list of providers. They
are often used to select a shortlist of potential suppliers to
invite to tender for a particular piece of work.Third
sectororganisations need to ensure that details of their work is
easily accessible. This may involve investing in ICT capability to
provide information via a website or accessing tendering
information online and e-procurement systems.
- Websites- used to present an effective profile of what an
organisation can do.Third sectororganisations should ensure their
websites contain plenty of information for any potential purchaser.
Ensure websites are easy to find by listing with major internet
directories and search engines and keep websites up to date.
- Seek publicity- get editorial coverage, either describing your
achievements and developments, or providing expert comment on
topical issues. If appropriate, obtain listings in specific trade
directories such as the British Healthcare Trade
Making direct contact with purchasers
Third sectororganisations should take every opportunity to
attend seminars or events where potential purchasers maybe present
or contact direct by email or telephone. When contact is made,
remember, first impressions are important, so ensure any research
done is up to date and apply it. Introduce your organisation and
its services. Find out who is responsible for procurement, request
a direct meeting or follow up a few days later if the contact is
Meeting potential purchasers
For those voluntary and community organisations successful in
setting up a meeting with a purchaser it is important to make a
good impression and maximise the opportunity. The list of questions
below can be used to help prepare for this meeting:
Prepare well in advance
- Research the public sector body and its requirements
- Decide who should attend, probably no more than two people
- Outline what you want to cover in your meeting, keeping it
short and focused.
- Note the questions that you need to ask.
Ask clear questions relevant to the service
- Listen to the purchaser to find out their present situation,
how they buy services and any issues
- Focus on what you can do for them, identifying the 'added
value' you can offer. What are your unique selling points? What
makes you different from other providers?
Identify the essential features of a
- Who specifies the service, who uses it and who else might
benefit from your service?
- How much do they buy and how often?
- Where is the service delivered? Is it one or several
- What does the purchaser think are the key requirements from a
provider of this service?
- How satisfied is the purchaser with the current supplier?
Check when they will next be selecting providers or
issuing a tender
- Is competitive tendering always used?
- How will potential providers be advised: direct contact, press
advert, online advert or in the Official Journal of the European
- How many do they normally invite to tender?
- What do they look for from providers - experience, financial
standing, capacity to deliver and so on?