We’ve left our Proposal Guys Panel – our team of proposal folks around the world who contribute here occasionally – in peace for a couple of months. But we thought it was time we made them do some work again (!), so here’s their latest topic, inspired partly by my recent post on “The Aggregation of Minute Differences”:
“The Little Things. We spend a great deal of time focused on the more obvious components of the proposal process. In your experience, what are some of the seemingly minor things that might be overlooked?”
- thank the individuals in the client organisation who have helped you
- ideally have it signed (or at least co-signed) by a senior executive who can bind the company to the contract
- finish with a specific call to action – with the onus on you
- Our compliance matrices – it says ‘a brief summary’, so please, please take back the 36 pages of text you just sent me on that case study… yes, it does matter.
- Little things like ‘Phase 1′. Or is it ‘Phase One’? Or indeed, ‘Phase I’? Let’s pick one, guys. And use it consistently!
- Terms, technologies, dates especially, confusing when they don’t add up!
- Diagrams – why change the legend? Pick a scheme, and stick to it. I have witnessed the client and supplier’s responsibilities (colours) being interchanged on more than one occasion: painful for the author, irritating for the evaluator!
Always put forth that little bit of extra effort. Do the last minute spell check one more time, provide labelled tabs in hard copies and bookmarks in electronic copies. Include all your contact info on the front cover. Take the time to write a cover letter. Do every little thing to make your RFP the one that is the easiest to review. Use binding that can easily slip into a file cabinet, deliver on time, give them everything they ask for. Follow up with a thank you even when you don’t win.
So, little things that get overlooked. As writers, especially when you’ve been with an organization for a long time, we get caught up in our own speak, in our own language. Our perspective gets stale. We’re still talking about things that mattered to the market two years ago, but there are new issues now that we’re not addressing. Or we talk about our differentiators that aren’t differentiators anymore….everybody is doing that now…
And who has time to evaluate every record in the knowledge base for its current relevance? Right. You do what you can.
Lesa Camarri picked on an even later stage in the process – delivery options. “Sounds simple, but it can really cut into overall turnaround time especially when you only have two weeks or less to respond to the RFP. Delivering via overnight service directly to the client is what we prefer; however, many times Sales prefers to hand deliver it, which means we need to back everything up one or two days to get it to the sales rep so they have enough time to hand deliver. And don’t they dare tell us two days before it’s due that they’ve decided to hand deliver when we’d been planning to ship direct to the client!”
Great stuff, and thanks as ever to our ‘panellistas’. Do feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments box!