One Size Does Not Fit All
When it comes to winning RFP proposals, piquing the issuer’s curiosity is one sure way of getting to the top of the list. Think custom tailored. If it’s not a bespoke proposal it’s not inspired, and if it’s not inspired it’s not provocative.
Putting a proposal together does take up a lot of time and human resources. So it is tempting to cut and paste from previous proposals.
Here’s the problem with that:
- It’s too generic: Even for the same type of service or product, the specifics are always different. Cut and paste proposals are easy to spot because they’re generic. It’s an automatic ‘tell’ and now you’ve just dropped down the list.
- It’s not creative: When using old material the mindset is on altering and mending rather than creating new, fresh ways to present your product or services. If an issuer is looking at a dozen or more proposals will they remember yours a day later?
Get rid of the fluff, the flab and the dead weight.
- Compact is good – as short as can be but without losing substance. With a quick skim a reviewer should be able to see you’ve delivered what they asked for. And graphics are your allies – but only if the message is clear. The reviewer will thank you for not making them work too hard.
- Make every sentence meaningful. The best sentences show the link between your service or product to the issuer’s vision, business goals, or inherent risks, with proof. Your company and what you have to offer is awesome, just tone down the rhetoric.
Sales Pitch or Business Proposal?
Requests for Proposals are the mutant offspring of a sales pitch combined with a business proposal. It draws elements from both – but which ones and how to is an art.
Sell them on the benefits but inspire confidence with the features. Benefits speak to the outcomes: cost savings, reduced risk, met business objectives, etc. The features prove how you’ll deliver those outcomes.
Connect the dots. After they’ve read your proposal, what is the one big thing you want them to take away? This should be a common thread woven throughout your answers.
The exception to this is if it’s a sole or preferred bidder situation. Which leads to the last key reason many proposals don’t make the cut.
Go or No Go
Not all RFPs are created equal. One of the easiest ways to increase your bid:success ratio is to be selective on the RFPs you pursue. Take the time to weigh your probability of success.
Making a go/no go decision is more complex than you might think, with variables on both sides. Here are just a few:
- What’s the issuer’s motivation for outsourcing? If it’s the end of a contract term and they’re required to repost, the incumbent is always favoured to win.
- How closely is your current product or service aligned with what’s being asked? If it’s a stretch be absolutely certain the variations won’t make a difference. Any whiff of ambiguity is sure to detract from your score.
- How taxed are your resources? If your staff are already tired and overworked, they probably don’t have it in them to give the proposal their best, especially when it’s not their area of expertise.
- What about implementation? Do you have the necessary resources already in place and ready to go if you get the contract? If you don’t and the competition does, their proposal will be viewed more favourably.
The Proposal Method can review a past proposal with a fresh pair of eyes or help with your next go/no go decision. Contact us today for a free consultation.