Are you ready to take on the task of writing a proposal response to a Request for Proposal?
Making the Commitment
Some of the documents that are generally needed and should be included in your proposal include:
It Is Never Too Early To Have These
- “The best time to develop your proposal or work with a professional proposal or content writer is when there is no pressure of an impending submission deadlines.”
The Cherry for the Sundae
When I was a child, there was always one person in my class who always seemed to have their nose stuck inside a book, because the story was so engaging they couldn’t stop reading. This past year, I wanted some of the evaluator we ran into to be like that kid I remember, and here’s why. In a competitive process, the proposal evaluator is generally an independent party who has been asked to serve in this capacity for the purpose of impartiality in their selection of a winning proposal.
Don’t “banter” or use “shop-talk,” “buzzwords”, or “fluff.” It wasn’t asked for, and it isn’t going to have any impact on the outcome of the decision. Don’t waste of your time, because the evaluator of your proposal just doesn’t care! They have enough to read and grade for “best-fit” to what has been asked for. If you make them read more than they need to, how do you think they are going to grade your proposal? You just made them read 4 paragraphs of stupid stuff, when a single sentence or paragraph that’s concise and direct will do quite nicely.
Now, you can’t really create “canned” answers for these responses. Each proposal is different, and really needs to be treated that way. There are always going to be “twists” and variations that will inevitably pop up, and make you stop and scratch your head for a few minutes while considering your answer. However, you can take each question, break it down into structured elements, and create an info-encyclopedia about the various aspects and elements of your organization, that keep it running efficiently.
- CQI programs and their structured processes
- System status and communications, including response time review process
- Any type of corrective action being used to review system variances that may occur
- Company compliance programs
- Financial management and stability
- Community service and education
- Technology: GPS and vehicle tracking, dispatch software and its ability to interface with existing systems
- Response time measuring, reporting, the “response clock”
- Outstanding legal considerations
- Mutual aid alliances and a plan with other regional agencies to help you when the need arises
- Operations processes that assure that labor costs are controlled
- “The easiest way to be eliminated from the competition is by not answering their questions. No matter how mundane or irrelevant, you have to assume they asked the questions for a reason and they're judging you on the responses you provide.” - Words to live by!
It Never Fails…
The area of writing your RFP response that everyone seems to overlook, and ALWAYS wait until the very last minute to put together are their references. This is your time to shine, and I personally can not understand why the officers of a company don’t go out way in advance and solicit reference letters from some of the “key players” that they work with regularly, and ask them for a letter? Have your marketing team do it if you’re too busy, or just take a day off from your Sunday golf game and write a personal letter, on company stationary, and ask them politely if the would be willing to write a nice and objective letter about their experiences with your company, and be willing to do they same for them.
“Man does not live by bread alone”, and pricing in a competitive bid, isn’t the decider of providers, either. There are always companies that will “lo-ball” their bid, with the idea of sorting it out later. Thinking that “possession is 9/10th of the law” and that if they get the contract they can come back to the table in 6-12 months with their “hat-in-hand,” and ask for more money, using a possible shut down of the operation if they don’t get it.
Point being that the magic is within you to make the winning pitch, and tell them why you are the right choice to make. In this instance, it is a destiny shaper, and you will only succeed at it if you take the time to develop and execute a well thought out plan.