Unlike other proposal tools, Zbizlink offers these super-smart time-saving features
Welcome to another edition of our blogs on proposals. In this series, we discuss a few topics that lie at the heart of proposal writing. These blog posts aim not just to educate you, but to also help you look a little deeper into the things you already know. In a hyper-worked world, we can miss the essence and heart of what we do.
Today we will discuss what an RFP is. If you’re wondering if this will be something you’ve already heard, hang in there. We’ll help you look at RFPs differently, and maybe then, you can respond to them differently. We will also touch upon RFP management software and how it can help you do a better job at responding to RFPs.
If an organization has a concern, an issue, a problem or a target they are not able to meet on their own, they send vendors a document that has a detailed list of their requirements. And then the vendors respond to these customers and bid to win projects for our respective companies, by a specific date that is called a “proposal deadline.”
Most times, you- the proposal writer, represent the vendor. And the company that releases the RFP is your prospective customer.
As someone who has authored RFPs and also authored proposals, let me share five key insights that I think every proposal author should know.
#1. It is called a “deadline” for a reason
There is evidence that suggests that the word “deadline” was based on the phrase “dead line”- a line within or around a prison. Prisoners were shot if they ever crossed the “dead line.” When you respond after crossing the due date deadline, you get shot from the bidding race. It is very important to respond on time.
When a customer sends an RFP with a deadline, they assume that you will work around it and deliver it before the deadline. Customers provide deadlines because they have deadlines too. It takes a lot of time for customers to read multiple proposals from vendors and infer who provides the best solution. They have their internal deadlines to identify the winner. And so, they need bidders to submit proposals on time and not request for extensions. A good RFP management software with project collaboration tools can help
#2. You need to read the entire proposal before responding to it
A lot of time, proposal writers skim through proposals without devotedly reading it. As a result, they miss important compliance factors. This causes them to fall out of the bid race for trivial reasons. One good way to avoid this would be to depend on a RFP management software that will extract compliance factors automatically from the RFP.
#3. You need to understand before you respond
One of our customers who was working in a semiconductor industry told us about the time he sent out a brief RFP requesting for a staff augmentation project. The project required engineers capable of cabling semiconductors. Semiconductors are very small devices, and they require engineers who have worked on computer chips before.
Somehow, one of the vendors who sent a proposal back responded without understanding the requirement. They sent information about how they can fix cable TV and how they can lay cable wires on the roads. Yes! This really happened!
You may think that the above example is funny, but quite often, those who lose bids are told, “You did not understand our requirement” or “Your solution had nothing to do with our problem.”
#4. Finding no partner is better than finding an irrelevant one
Customers also find partnerships to be less valuable because the partners picked for a bid are not validated properly. It is important to find the right partner when you are partnering to win a bid. If a customer had a bad experience with your partner earlier, it is highly unlikely that you will win the bid. Also, if your customer identifies that the partner does not comply with some standards mentioned in the RFP, you will most likely lose the bid.
Finding the right partner is a long and difficult process. It gets harder without a good RFP management software that will help identify the best partner.
#5. It is easy to read and concentrate when your business proposal has been well formatted.
Too often, because of the lack of time- or skill, we’ve noticed that proposal developers end up having a very poorly formatted document. Often, this is because someone from a technical background ends up writing it. As a result, the document is filled with technical jargon. There is no articulation about benefits or strategy. And worse, it looks like someone in a hurry compiled it. A poorly formatted proposal reflects poorly on the vendor who sent it. Because of implicit association bias, the customer would automatically think, “That’s a shabby document. Pretty sure it was sent in by a shabby vendor”. A poorly formatted proposal also is hard to read and can be very annoying or distracting. Contributors to the RFP response must be able to fetch ready-made business proposal templates from an RFP management software.