News and Updates
Bid and Proposal Strategy
Stella Gibbs on March 18, 2021
It sounds obvious, but choosing which RFPs to respond to is key to success. Just because there are several RFPs for which your company "could" offer the stated product/service mix, doesn’t mean that you should respond all, or even any of them. Consider the timing of the response(s), the product delivery schedule, and the extent to which your proposal can really articulate how you meet the client's requirements (both stated and unstated). And if the RFP is not exactly clear as to what the potential client wants, carefully read the details and ask clarifying questions before making a decision to go forward with a bid (or not.)
Generally speaking, you should create an opportunity plan before the RFP is even released. This high level plan serves to focus the sales activities on opportunities (and customers) that are potentially a good fit for the business goals and allow you to maximize the value delivered by your product or solution. Pre-RFP interactions with potential customers are designed to understand their needs and pain points, the strengths and weaknesses of their current solution and the level of satisfaction with their existing vendor or supplier. Gathering such intelligence will help drive a high level strategy to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, address the customer's most pressing needs and position the company for a winning bid.
The proposal strategy in general can also be created prior to the RFP release. With effective intelligence and, if possible, access to prior RFPs or proposals, a high level proposal plan can be drafted. In this you can articulate how you will address your offered strengths, address any shortcomings, outshine the competition, highlight the benefits and provide proof that the solution works.
Creating the proposal itself is complex and requires a mix of resources, time, and prioritization. Like any project, it needs to be planned, organized, and delivered-- usually within very tight time constraints and often with deadlines that conflict with pre-existing company priorities. To set the scene for success and gain in-house support and buy-in for the added work involved, a key part of the bid strategy is the bid decision process--making sure that the "to bid or not to bid" decision is based on tangible, reasonable criteria. For example, does the opportunity fit within the company's overall sales plan, is there evidence that your solution will meet the client's major requirements, and perhaps most importantly, can you provide references or case studies that speak to the effectiveness of what you are offering?
Finally, keeping a record of the RFPs that you review, the decisions made (bid/no bid), the key reason for each, and the final outcome (win/lose) will help you better identify those future RFPs that are likely to be a good fit for the company and will make your RFP response process smoother, more effective and more successful.
If you have questions or want to discuss your RFP response strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Using Proposals as a Sales Tool
Stella Gibbs on January 15, 2021
As new businesses invest in developing their product and service offerings for the marketplace, they frequently encounter resource constraints that limit their ability to build out a dedicated sales team at the same time. Even though securing new business is vital to their success, there are very real challenges to actually making this happen.
Businesses that have products and services useful to government agencies or other business organizations often have the opportunity to submit competitive, written proposals to win work. Indeed, while responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) can be quite complex, and is not everyone's idea of fun, it can be an effective way to leverage an organization's limited resources to secure large contracts that return revenues for several years.
Three things that help a business succeed in the RFP arena are:
1. Make Strategic Choices
It sounds obvious, but choosing which RFPs to respond to is key to success. Just because there are several RFPs for which your company "could" offer the stated product/service mix, doesn’t mean that you should respond to them all. Consider the timing of the response(s), the product delivery schedule, and the extent to which your proposal can really articulate how you meet the client's stated requirements. And if it's not exactly clear what the potential client wants, take the time to read the details and ask a few clarifying questions before making a decision to bid or not bid.
2. Understand the Competition
Writing proposals is challenging in itself, and even more challenging when you consider that you are likely to have stiff competition for the work. Research your marketplace to understand if there is an incumbent or perhaps preferred vendor, consider the potential strengths and weaknesses of your and others bids, and pay attention to the evaluation criteria and scoring system that will be used. Many bids are won or lost by a very small margin, so maximize your chances of being awarded every point on offer.
3. Write for your Audience
Proposal evaluators have the difficult job of reviewing multiple proposals which are frequently packed with detailed information. Make it easy for them to find and digest the key information in your bid that tells them about your company, your solution to their challenges, and the action plan that you will implement. And be sure to have researched their budget expectations so that the price you quote puts you in contention. Make it easy for them to understand and be excited about your offering and to award you with high scores for all the required proposal components.
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