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Top tips for selling to large organisations

Public and private sector procurement offers an excellent opportunity for small businesses to find new routes to market. But what do buyers, in both public and private sectors, expect from potential suppliers? Read our top tips to find out and improve your chances of clinching that deal.

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Public and private sector procurement offers an excellent opportunity for small businesses to find new routes to market. But what do buyers, in both public and private sectors, expect from potential suppliers? Read our top tips to find out and improve your chances of clinching that deal. Offer value for money Primarily, buyers from the public sector and large private organisations are looking for best value for money. They usually have four main aims: to get the right goods and services at the right price of the right quality in the right place and at the right time. Be reliable Suppliers need to be reliable, competent and customer-focused. A buyer will take into account the costs of procurement and will need to be convinced that a supplier is able to provide the right: delivery and availability against price fitness of purpose (quality, suitability, etc.) whole life costs, including spares and running and maintenance costs on-costs (transport, storage, etc.) Prove your worth A smaller procurement exercise may simply involve providing a quotation for the buyer to consider along with others (typically at least three). But, above a certain level, the procurement is likely to entail a pre-qualification exercise before an invitation to tender is issued. This means convincing your potential customers that your company has the experience, resources and approach they're looking for in a supplier. You will need to have all the relevant documentation in place to show that yours is an established business with all relevant policies and procedures in place. When considering a potential supplier, the buyer is obliged to consider a great deal of information about the company including: company registration details and structure financial information, usually the last three years' report and accounts technical and profession capability recruitment policy, equality and diversity policy health and safety policy sustainability and environmental policies approach to corporate social responsibility references and previous experience. Make sure you're ready Tendering is not suitable for new businesses as the buyer normally needs to see three years' accounts. However, if you are a start-up, you can begin now to get your fledgling business ready to tender by learning what's involved and pitching initially for some low-value contracts that are below the tender threshold. You can also form an alliance or joint venture with a similar but more established business: consortium bids are now increasingly acceptable. Tips for preparing tenders When preparing a tender remember to: demonstrate how you are able to provide the most economically advantageous solution based on a whole life costing be innovative in the way in which goods, works and services are offered show how you will comply with the purchasers' policies and conditions as they will differ in virtually every organisation ensure that the goods, work and services meet the minimum requirements whilst meeting the required standard of quality. You can either do this yourself, if you have sufficient knowledge, or you can get help from experts who ‘know the ropes' of the tendering process. Tendering for business with the public sector, or major PLCs, is not easy, indeed it can seem forbidding and onerous, but you have to do it if you want to grow your company by winning valuable contracts with large organisations. The good news is that contracts like this can mean regular payment and are good ‘bread and butter'; they will help you take your business into a different league. About the author Procurement Connection is a Community Interest Company for local private and public sector business community gain. They host events across the UK to help connecting public sector organisations with their local business community. Find your nearest event at www.procurement-events.org.uk. Read the second part of this article on the do's and don'ts of tendering in next month's growing your business newsletter on 18 October 2011. If you don't already receive the newsletter, sign up to free introductory membership.

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