RFP Critical Issues

With more and more companies competing for fewer opportunities, it’s critical that your RFP, RFQ, and RFI proposal responses are on target. In addition to accurately meeting all customer requirements, your proposals must clearly communicate the real value that your firm offers.

In developing your proposal responses, do you always consider:

1. Competition/Differentiation
Have you fully assessed your competition so that you can position your messages to downplay your competitor’s strengths and emphasize your own?

Have you clearly and consistently distinguished how your firm is different—and better—than your competitors?

2. Hot Button Issues/Networking
What do your customers REALLY want? What are their deepest concerns? Do your proposal themes and content accurately respond to these needs and provide exactly the right solutions?

And beyond your business development reps, have you capitalized on the professional network both inside and outside your company? These contacts could provide additional valuable perspective in understanding your customers’ needs.

3. Executive Summary
Is your executive summary pithy and consistently on message? Does it clearly identify the customer’s objective, introduce proposal themes, and succinctly summarize your firm’s experience, expertise, and value?

4. Compliance
Have you carefully reviewed the RFP and created a compliance matrix/cross reference table to ensure all requirements have been appropriately addressed?

Tip: Use the matrix as a development aid in building your proposal, but you might also include it with your response as a helpful indexing tool for your customer.

Bottom Line: Always make it as easy as possible for your customer to locate your responses!

5. Uniform Brand/Collateral
What is your brand? Is it consistently represented in your proposal response and in all of the marketing collateral that may be seen by your customer (Website, brochures, correspondence, email signatures, social media sites)?

Beware: If you aren’t sure what your brand is, your customers will know the answer after they conduct their due diligence in evaluating your responses. Are you absolutely certain you are projecting the intended corporate image?

6. Professional Writing/Design
How polished, refined, and consistent is the writing in your proposals? Are you submitting visually attractive documents—in both hard copy and e-copy format—free from careless punctuation, format, and design errors?

And again, is your content easy to read and navigate? Can the evaluators easily identify and understand your messages and responses?

7. Price
Even if you are technically competent, it is not always about price. If your proposal response is handicapped by sloppy design, poor writing, or needless oversights, you will not be selected no matter how competitive your price may be.

MOST Importantly…
Your proposal* demonstrates the quality of your firm’s work and brand. Always consider: Why would a customer hire your company to deliver your project if you cannot even produce a professional and impressive proposal?

*And your brochures, blog posts, email correspondence, Facebook profile, newsletters, presentations, trade show booth signage, Twitter tweets, website content…!