I’ve often been told that you can’t develop a relationship with your prospective client during the formal tendering process. There is a fair amount of truth in this – they certainly hold you at arm’s length inasmuch as all questions and answers are circulated for all to see, and everything is kept strictly above board.
However, simply asking intelligent questions – over the phone if possible – will begin to create an impression that could work in your favour later.
I’ve been asked by clients, from time to time, to follow up tenders that they have failed to win. I’ve even been told on such occasions that one of the elements that has worked in the successful tenderer’s favour has been the amount of questions that they’ve asked. This has clearly translated into achieving a high score in the tender submission. The point being, the more clarification you seek the better your chance of getting the answer right.
My tip is, be careful how you do it, but don’t assume you can’t develop a dialogue and establish a relationship during the formal tender process – and ask lots and lots of questions.