Four simple ways you can make sure you win public sector contracts

The public sector tenders around £50 billion worth of contracts every year – which means that there are significant opportunities available to construction companies of all shapes and sizes. And with the Government now committed to spending £1 in every £3 with SMEs, smaller suppliers should stand more chance of winning lucrative projects than ever before.


Competition for these contracts is understandably high, however, which means that if you’re responsible for developing your organisation’s project pipeline, you must ensure you’re taking the optimum approach to finding and bidding for jobs with public sector buyers. At Constructionline, we have extensive experience in connecting suppliers with both public and private sector buyers, and over the years we’ve learnt a thing or two about what makes a winning bid.

Here are our top tips on how to boost your organisation’s chances of winning public procurement contracts by:

Streamlining the way you source public projects

Government portals like Contracts Finder and Find-a-Tender contain thousands of public sector projects, but finding those that are the right fit for your business can be a lengthy process. If you don’t have the time and resources to dedicate to trawling through public procurement sites, then you could miss out on opportunities. So make sure you’re boosting your chances of winning new work from the beginning by using Constructionline’s Marketplace to easily find new projects that are perfect for your organisation.

Marketplace indexes opportunities from Contracts Finder and Find-a-Tender (as well as OJEU (TED) and a range of planning portals) and provides you with highly specific search filters, so you can find jobs in the locations and work areas that you’re interested in in minutes. You can even save your favourite searches and set up notifications for them, so we’ll send an email straight to your inbox when a new job is posted that meets your criteria. This means you don’t even need to log in to Constructionline to find new opportunities, so you can use the time you used to spend trawling through potential projects to perfect your tenders instead.

Address every aspect of the specification

Once you’ve found the ideal public procurement opportunity for your business, it might be tempting to submit your tender as soon as possible – but it’s important to take your time at this stage, to ensure that you’re submitting a winning tender. Start by reading the advert thoroughly to understand what the buyer requirements are before you begin to write your response.

When you’re writing your tender, make sure that you’re answering the questions the buyer has asked of you, rather than simply listing facts about your organisation’s capabilities. For each question, you should outline how your organisation can meet the buyer’s requirements by providing the most recent and relevant evidence of how you have done so previously. Quotes and case studies work particularly well here. Avoid vague statements such as ‘customer service is at the heart of everything we do’ – instead, show them how you have put the customer first on a previous project.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of the brief, don’t be afraid to put any questions you may have to the point of contact for the project, as they should be happy to clarify them. You should also check that your pricing is in line with the anticipated budget for the contract, as if it’s not, then you could be over- or underselling your product or service.

Emphasising the social value you can provide

When it comes to public sector construction projects, proving the social value you can provide can be the difference between winning or losing new work. In line with the Government’s Social Value Model, public sector buyers must consider social value factors when awarding higher value contracts (typically >£123,000). When scoring bids for these projects, at least 10% – and up to 30% – of marks awarded will focus on social value.

This means that it’s vital to highlight how your business has provided social value in past projects and outline how you could provide similar social value on the buyer’s project. If you’re a Constructionline member, it’s easy to showcase your social value credentials when bidding for projects with our public sector buyers thanks to our new social value question set. These questions are designed to pull out your social value strengths, so buyers can see that you pay your staff the living wage, for example, or that you provide apprenticeships for local young people. With social value now weighing so highly in public procurement decisions, our social value questionnaire enables you to stand out from the competition and boosts your chances of winning the tender.

Learn from lost bids

You might not win every project – but if you can learn from lost bids, then you can still take something valuable from the application process. So if your bid fails, ask the buyer to provide feedback, as this information could highlight areas for improvement that you might not have considered otherwise.

You should communicate this feedback to the rest of your team, so that everyone has the opportunity to understand why you didn’t win this time, and put forward ideas for how you can ensure that you do win the next bid. If the buyer tells you that you failed to provide sufficient evidence of social value, for example, you may decide to boost the social value you provide going forward by working with a social enterprise. Public buyers often post information about winning bidders and contracts awarded on Contracts Finder, so you could also compare your own bid with this information.

Start winning new work today with Marketplace

Start boosting your organisation’s chances of winning new public sector contracts today by setting up some saved searches on Marketplace. Simply sign into your Constructionline account and head to the Marketplace tab to begin boosting your project pipeline.

Blog Social Value, Public Sector, Supplier, SMEs