Thursday, December 15, 2011

Proposal Points to Consider

Proposals are more likely to result in elimination than winning. Sorry to say, but your prospects are going to be looking for losers first in a process that starts with a request for proposal (RFP). Let’s face it, it is a challenging economic environment and the buyers have an advantage now. If you must submit a proposal, think about winning strategies for putting your best foot forward. Remember the reviewers are looking for losers more than the winner in the opening round.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should respond to a request for proposal. You need to have a GO/NO GO decision criteria. Sometimes an off-the-shelf response is okay but most of the time it makes sense to ask: What is specific to this project that we should include in our response?

Consider an executive summary. Take the time up-front to plan your strategy.Take the time to make it shorter. It takes more time to write shorter and more efficiently.” Mark Twain said “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

The number one reason for not winning is inadequate knowledge of the customer. 80% of wins are, at least in part, a result of a previous relationship. So don’t wait to learn about the customer and the specifics of their needs. It could be too late. Studies have shown that odds of winning increase with the number of people involved. So get people in your company involved in responding to proposals.

The average cost of preparing a proposal (in the construction field) is around $2,000-$4,000 per million bid. You need to quantify the costs. Your response to an RFP is for a client to BUY THEIR PROJECT not your capabilities. This is important to remember. A lot of companies fall into the trap of trying to tell te reader how great they are. They say things like: “We can deliver safely, on time and within budget. These are the things your competition will be saying too. How will you differentiate yourself?

Happy Hunting.

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