Meet the Buyer: Your missing link to winning work?

Why are suppliers not attending Meet the Buyer events? 

Meet the Buyer events have been an integral part of the public procurement process for many years. Considerable time, resource and money goes into hosting one, but why are suppliers simply not attending?

What’s in it for the commissioning authority?

Meet the Buyer, or Supplier Engagement events, can take many different shapes and sizes in terms of set up, and structure. They do however, all have the same ambition. Held at the outset of the procurement process, Meet the Buyer events help public authorities to:

  • Promote the construction framework and/or single tender services they are commissioning;
  • Inform the market of their intentions and requirements; and
  • Assess the marketplace for suitable suppliers.

The events also enable the client to promote opportunities for local businesses and the integration of Social Value. They ensure a fair and transparent procurement exercise in accordance with UK procurement legislation. The real benefit for public sector clients is generating a high level of quality responses from a range of contractors.

No Trick… the client really does want to help!

During events like these, public authorities will ensure bidders are well supported and aware of what to expect during the procurement process. Occasionally they will discuss the format and structure of the tender and even provide bid support workshops to help suppliers improve their chances of success.

You may even have an opportunity to ask questions. This is an opportune moment to really get to know the client and understand their drivers and core objectives, which are crucial for developing excellent and customer-focused responses. Clients aren’t giving away this information to trick you, there are no hidden motives, they really do want to help.

What’s in it for Contractors?

For contractors this is a unique opportunity, to meet with both your potential bid assessor and client face-to-face, to gather as much information as you can about them and their tender requirements, in order to give you a competitive advantage. They are also an invaluable opportunity for you to raise your profile amongst the public authority and demonstrate genuine interest in them and the services they are commissioning. This may prove useful in giving your client an excuse to remember you, when your bid crops up, in a pile of other tender responses.

Frustrated clients

As professional winning work experts in construction, we have worked to support both public authorities and contractors at a national, regional and local level through the procurement process. Having met a number of public sector clients and held various discussions on this topic with them over the years, it seems apparent how concerned they are at the lack of interest and general attendance at Meet the Buyer events.

One thing public-sector clients have all collectively commented on, is how genuinely frustrated they are that contractors are not turning up, taking part and making the most out of these opportunities. They have spoken to us openly about the large number of non-compliant, or poorly compiled bid responses they receive. This suggests that tenderers have no, or very limited understanding of clients, their issues, expectations, objectives and requirements.

The frustration is that if they would have attended a client’s Meet the Buyer event, they would have a better understanding of their requirements. Instead they receive 5 or 6 out of 10 for their responses, rather than excellent 8s, 9s or 10s.

Proving the point

We recently attended a Meet the Buyer event to support a group of councils, who are currently procuring a major construction framework worth an estimated £400m. Having been there and witnessed the levels of attendance, it was a shock to see that only a handful of  contractors actually attended on the day. Now this is a huge construction framework with opportunities for many contractors. If you’re a contractor wishing to win this type of work, within this area, then there is absolutely no excuse not to have been in attendance. This is now a missed and wasted opportunity.

‘Waste of Time’

Despite the huge benefits to contractors in attending these events, too often than not, we hear contractors referring to Meet the Buyer events as a complete ‘waste of time’. This is naïve. One of the simplest ways to increase your win rate, is by attending these events and getting to know your client. So, the question is, why would you not attend? This could be your missing link to winning work.

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