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Find the Wining 03 Tips to Federal Proposal Writing

Just like any company, government organizations have needs that they find hard to fulfill on their own. Hence, they send out RFPs in the open market and make public announcements seeking any prospective bidders. Usually, government RFPs have fixed budgets, and hence, projects awarded are fixed-price contracts. Unlike commercial RFPs, government RFPs are usually hard to read and have complex jargon and legal terminology layered in nearly every single section.

In this article, we give you three tips (and a bonus tip) to help you respond well to a federal RFP and be compliant.

Tip 1: Know what is in each section

  • Section A contains the most basic information such as contact information, important addresses, solicitation number, guidelines and deadlines for submission, specific submission instructions, and even information on current incumbents.
  • Section B requires you to enter information on billing. You will need to enter in detail line by line on various billable expenses such as travel, labor, supplies, etc
  • Section C gives you the Statement of Work (SOW). The SOW forms the essence of what services are required and how they are expected to be delivered. It is crucial that this chapter must be thoroughly studied and analyzed by the delivery teams.
  • Section L gives you details on formatting, organizing and laying out of content. It may also contain additional submission requirements- such as a maximum page count, margin, spacing, font, etc.
  • Section M gives you details on how you will be scored and what are the scoring criteria. Focusing on this will help you evolve a strategy that will enable you to have a high likelihood of winning the deal. Reading section M and C together will enhance your ability to create a sound winning strategy and value proposition.
  • Section K has information on representations or certifications that you need to provide. This is especially important if the RFP requires only a specific type of a bidder, such as a US Firm, a minority bidder, a woman-led enterprise, etc.

Step 2: Ensure 100% compliance with a compliance matrix

Often, proposal writers and managers avoid creating compliance matrices because they may take much time to prepare. They feel that they would be more productive if they directly spend their time in responding to the RFP. However, industry studies have shown that creating a compliance matrix before writing an RFP response actually saves more time than they take to prepare.

Even if your font size does not match the compliance criteria mentioned in section L, your proposal will be instantly dismissed. It is crucial therefore that each compliance factor is captured well and adhered to by the proposal writers and contributors. We strongly recommend using a good capture management tool to auto-fetch the compliance factors, or to note down the compliance factors in a spreadsheet manually. Zbizlink provides a capture management tool that will fetch all relevant compliance factors for you so that you can focus on what is more important: strategy.

Tip 3: Read and Ask, Don’t Assume

Proposal writers who work on federal RFPs end up being either too complacent or too worked up while responding to a federal RFP. They either overthink of the RFP or too little. While you can use the above guidelines to find the information you need, depending only on the above guidelines may cause you to miss out on some important guidelines that may be hidden in other sections of the RFP. Hence, it is a good practice to glance through the entire RFP once to ensure that you have not missed anything before the kick-off call. During the kickoff call, allocate specific chapters to be re-read by a specific date by specific accountable proposal contributors. Since federal RFPs have long response times, ensure that the entire RFP is read thoroughly before responding.

Just like how proposals contain much boilerplate content, RFPs also contain much boilerplate content. Contradictions and confusions are commonplace. If you are not sure what the RFP’s intention is in-regard-to a specific matter, ensure that you ask about it. You can usually find guidelines for queries on the RFP and how they can be addressed in section L of the federal RFP. Ensure that the RFP is thoroughly read, and all queries are noted and sent to the customer by the date mentioned in section L.

Bonus Tip: Use a proposal management software.

Good proposal management software will help you organize and prepare the proposal better. Instead of wasting time on mundane tasks such as finding compliance factors, getting approvals and developing and maintaining proposal schedules, a good proposal management software will help you do the same, with a lot less effort. Consider using Zbizlink, a proposal management software built by proposal managers for proposal managers.

Zbizlink is entirely online, ensuring that all communication regarding a proposal is available in one place. It also helps you with scheduling, getting approvals, ensuring compliance, finding resumes and teaming with partners who have relevant resources, among other things. Save time. Don’t bid to respond. Bid to win, with Zbizlink.

7 Quick Tips to Find the Best Proposal Management Tool

Every single seller will tell you that their proposal management tool is undisputed, unequivocally, unmistakably the best proposal management software in the whole wide world. While some specialize in a particular area, others perform multiple functions.

In a world where there are so many proposal management tools, how do you select something that would really solve your problem instead of ending up in the valley of despair, where other procured enterprise tool has been condemned?

#1. Relevance over Aesthetics: We’ve been given this advice since childhood, and yet, the human brain falls prey to how things look. Often, a fancy ppt and a colorful sales pitch, and even a choreographed demo presented to a senior manager end up winning the votes. Beware of tools in the market that look great but don’t serve the purposes that matter. Remember those aesthetics come only second to the effectiveness

#2. What exactly are your requirements? We’ve noticed that quite often, organizations do not have a good set of requirements when they are procuring a proposal management tool. It is a good practice to have a well-articulated and realistic set of requirements when seeking a proposal management software. If you have a tool that performs multiple functions, focus on your key needs and priorities and seek a tool that solves the biggest problems best.

#3. The best vendors let you use it for free: For a while at-least, test and use the free version of the tool. Ask the vendor and see if you can get to use the full version for a month at no cost. See if you are comfortable using the tool. Make notes on the response time once you have clicked a few buttons.

#4. Does it save time and effort? We use chainsaws instead of axes because it takes less time to chop a tree with a chain saw than an ax. It also reduces the effort taken to chop a tree. The same goes for tools. Ask the following questions:

  • Does it save time and effort in proposal development?
  • Can you quantify the time and effort saved by using the tool in your environment?
  • Do you lose money or an equivalent amount of time by not using this tool?

Answering yes to all the above questions is a good justification for purchasing the tool, but there are more questions to be asked.

#5. Can it help you win? While all proposal management tool saves time and effort in some way or the other, the more important question that you must ask is if it will increase your likelihood of winning deals. It will not matter if you save all the time and effort in the world and end up on the losing side. Ask the following questions to

  • What strategic output will the tool generate that will enhance your likelihood of winning?
  • Will you be able to generate a better proposal by using this tool?
  • Will you be able to develop a competitive edge by using this tool?

#6. Can potential risks be mitigated?

Winning and losing a deal are pretty much two sides of the same coin. Hence, you must ask if the proposal management tool reduces your likelihood of losing the deal. To begin with, ask the following questions:

  • Will the tool mitigate your risk of non-compliance?
  • Will the tool reduce your likelihood of losing?
  • Does the tool track deals that you’ve lost and provide analysis on the same?

#7. What are the perks?

In addition to the above questions, it would be good to ask a few more which are as mentioned below:

  • Are there features in the tool not necessary now, but which you may need in the future?
  • Does the vendor offer after-sales support?
  • What are additional features for the tool available in the pipeline?
  • Do the price and functionality justify the purchase?
  • Is there are price hike that is expected over the years?
  • What are the future plans for the tool?
  • Do they take your suggestions for improvements?

Zbizlink was literally built by proposal managers for proposal managers. We built it because we could not find a single product in the entire market which could sufficiently help us with our needs for proposal management. We wanted a tool that could increase our win rates. We wanted a tool that could save time and help us manage the time we had before submission deadlines. We wanted a tool that can help us parse resumes for Request for resumes RFR, autofill documents and make the entire approval process very clear.

Moreover, hence, Zbizlink was born- out of a need that the market could not meet. Curious to know more about what Zbizlink can do for your business? Get in touch with us now!

The Zbizlink Advantage And Business Proposals

When it comes to preparing proposals, there are a lot of moving parts that have to be taken into account. Governmental RFPs tend to be extremely specific, detailed and exacting, with strict deadlines, and it’s important to have a complete understanding of expectations when navigating through the proposal writing process. All it can take is one missed detail or one misunderstood requirement and the entire proposal might be dismissed, and hours of work scuttled.

Writing proposals almost invariably means lots of stakeholders and SME’s involved in the process, and it’s imperative that they be able to communicate effectively and find the best methods and channels to collaborate in preparing the Business proposal.

There are plenty of proposal tools and proposal templates on the market that help achieve these ends, but few can boast the features that Zbizlink can bring to the table.

What you need in the proposal creation and management process is a way to keep information organized and easily accessible for everyone involved. This real-time access to vital information can save so many headaches and slowdowns in the process and can make the difference between putting your proposal over the goal line or seeing it get rejected.

Imagine a proposal tool that compiles all the information you need in one place, like a SharePoint library that’s populated with RFPs, reports, contracts and any other documents you might need in the proposal creation and management process. Now, imagine it organized so that the files you need can be quickly tracked down by author, solicitation number, bidder, procurement agency, data type or even by a given phrase or keyword. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of digging through a clutter of emails or MS-Office folders to try to find the specific file you need (while the clock is ticking, of course), you’ll appreciate what a powerful proposal tool this could be.

What you need is a way for writers, editors and other stakeholders to have access to the information they need, whenever they need it – a resource that can work online or offline, on any device. It’s the kind of proposal tool that can open doors for you and can let your team collaborate in ways that are clear and direct and can mean the difference between turning in a winning proposal on-time or losing your chance at landing an all-important contract.

A few of the features that Zbizlink offers for document control and collaboration:
• User-friendly dashboard for transparent sharing of files and data
• Smart autofill feature and customizable templates to streamline the proposal process
• Control tool that archives every version, with regular backups to the cloud, protecting your content and all your hard work
• Customizable reports that can alert specific users automatically
• Live chat and email
• Automatic alerts when a bid solicitation is opened up and is a good fit for your organization’s niche

When it comes to putting together winning proposals that will get you the procurement contracts you need, there’s too much riding on the outcome to take chances. Find out how Zbizlink can streamline the process, get your team on the same page and get the results you need.

Five FAQs To Introduce You To Business Proposal Writing

#1 What is an RFP?

When a customer has requirements that they are not able to manage on their own, they seek help from external vendors to do it for them. The services or products from external vendors will be solicited by the means of a document called the “Request for Proposal” (RFP). This document is sent to multiple vendors who will compete to win the bid for the project.

Depending on the requirement, the RFP may be anywhere between 1 to 1000 pages long. Sometimes, customers share requirements even via a simple email thread. But sometimes, especially in government proposal writing, the RFP can be very information intensive- up to 1000 pages long.

#2 What is an RFP Response?

Once vendors receive the RFP, they read it thoroughly to understand the customer’s requirements. Then, they prepare a response document. This document acts as their business proposal. The business proposal is called an “RFP response.”

The RFP response tells the customer how the vendor plans to solve the customer’s problem. It gives them a lot of other supporting material that proves their knowledge about tackling similar problems.

The “Business proposal”/ “RFP response” is key to winning business. It often has an audience covering a wide spectrum of organizational roles- ranging from managers and architects to CEOs, CFOs and COOs. Hence, the business proposal must be created in a very professional way. Its language, dictum, format, clarity, honesty, empathy, excellence, and attitude reflect on the vendor who has written it.

For vendors, business proposals are the most important documents that go to customers. In it lies the essence of everything the vendor is trying to sell. It is the one chance the vendor gets to show that they have thoroughly understood the customer’s problem, that they have the best solution for that problem, and that they want what’s in the best interest of the customer.

The goal of a business proposal is to win business. To win business, it must help customers understand how their solutions will benefit the customer, why they are better than the competition, how change will be managed and how projects will be executed. It also contains the terms and conditions that apply and the price- which are key factors that affect a win./

#3 What is the first thing you must do before writing a proposal?

The first thing you must do to win a business is to plan to win it. The APMP, a global body that sets standards for proposal writing, suggests spending at least 15% of your time just to plan what strategy and content must go into planning. You can do this planning once you and your team have spent enough time reading about the requirement in the RFP.

After thorough reading, you can then discuss individual findings and opinions during a “Kick-off-meeting”. The kick-off meeting helps set the right strategy to help create a meticulous and successful proposal. During the meeting, it is also important to discuss the business proposal format and layout.

Ask the following questions to keep your proposal planning on track during the kick-off meeting:

• What are the needs of the customer?
• What are the underlying reasons behind the release of this RFP?
• What content comes first/ is most important to win the business?
• What content adds value?
• What content can be removed without affecting our likelihood of winning?

It is crucial that the business proposal be created using a good proposal template. Sometimes, customers themselves give a specific business proposal format for vendors to use. It is a good practice, even if the customer does not provide it, to ask the customer, “Do you want it in a specific format?”

Government proposal writing often demands that business proposals must be submitted according to a standard format, with contents in a specific order. Government proposal writing sometimes even demands the use of a specific font, header, footer, margin width, and paper quality.

#4 How much effort will it take to write a good proposal?

Short answer: A lot. Writing a proposal, small or big; takes a considerable amount of effort.

For a large bid, proposals can be anywhere between 100-1000 pages long. The proposal writer takes a lot of effort to write, edit and review a proposal. It takes just as much time to read, comprehend and evaluate it for the customer. At the customer’s office, managers who are to evaluate the proposal may be voracious, casual, or unenthusiastic readers. Often there are more than three evaluators who are not a homogeneous group. Hence, proposals must be filled with not just information, but with consideration and empathy towards the reader.

#5 How can I manage the bid cycle and deliver a winning proposal?
It is vital to rely on a good proposal management software that can help you in every phase of the bid cycle. ZBizlink- a proposal management and collaboration software, helps you throughout your proposal development cycle.

From helping you identify opportunities, to finding partners who can help you win. From capturing requirements, to automatically getting you answers to RFP questions. From finding templates to creating proposals on a click. From planning resources to managing workflows and approvals- Zbizlink does it all!

Zbizlink also has capture management tools and project collaboration tools to drive the proposal process, so you can focus on proposal strategy, instead of proposal logistics. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more you can do. Do get in touch with us info@zbizlink.com or visit our website www.zbizlink.com to know more.

Five FAQs To Introduce You To Business Proposal Writing

What is an RFP?
When a customer has requirements that they are not able to manage on their own, they seek help from external vendors to do it for them. The services or products from external vendors will be solicited using a document called the “Request for Proposal” (RFP). This document is sent to multiple vendors who will compete to win the bid for the project.

Depending on the requirement, the RFP may be anywhere between 1 to 1000 pages long. Sometimes, customers share requirements even via a simple email thread. However, sometimes, especially in government proposal writing, the RFP can be very information intensive- up to 1000 pages long.

What is an RFP Response?
Once vendors receive the RFP, they read it thoroughly to understand the customer’s requirements. Then, they prepare a response document. This document acts as their business proposal. The business proposal is called an “RFP response.”

The RFP response tells the customer how the vendor plans to solve the customer’s problem. It gives them a lot of other supporting material that proves their knowledge about tackling similar problems.

The “Business proposal”/ “RFP response” is key to winning business. It often has an audience covering a wide spectrum of organizational roles- ranging from managers and architects to CEOs, CFOs and COOs. Hence, the business proposal must be created in a very professional way. Its language, dictum, format, clarity, honesty, empathy, excellence, and attitude reflect on the vendor who has written it.

For vendors, business proposals are the most important documents that go to customers. In it lies the essence of everything the vendor is trying to sell. It is the one chance the vendor gets to show that they have thoroughly understood the customer’s problem, that they have the best solution for that problem, and that they want what’s in the best interest of the customer.

The goal of a business proposal is to win business. To win business, it must help customers understand how their solutions will benefit the customer, why they are better than the competition, how the change will be managed and how projects will be executed. It also contains the terms and conditions that apply and the price- which are key factors that affect a win.

What is the first thing you must do before writing a proposal?
The first thing you must do to win business is to plan to win it. The Association of Proposal Management Professionals APMP, a global body that sets standards for proposal writing, suggests spending at least 15% of your time just to plan what strategy and content must go into planning. You can do this planning once you and your team have spent enough time reading about the requirement in the RFP.

After a thorough reading, you can then discuss individual findings and opinions during a “Kick-off-meeting.” The kick-off meeting helps set the right strategy to help create a meticulous and successful proposal. During the meeting, it is also essential to discuss the business proposal format and layout.

Ask the following questions to keep your proposal planning on track during the kick-off meeting:

What are the needs of the customer?
What are the underlying reasons behind the release of this RFP?
What content comes first/ is most important to win the business?
What content adds value?
What content can be removed without affecting our likelihood of winning?
It is crucial that the business proposal is created using a good proposal template. Sometimes, customers themselves give a specific business proposal format for vendors to use. It is a good practice, even if the customer does not provide it, to ask the customer, “Do you want it in a specific format?”

Government proposal writing often demands that business proposals must be submitted according to a standard format, with contents in a specific order. Government proposal writing sometimes even demands the use of a specific font, header, footer, margin width, and paper quality.

How much effort will it take to write a good proposal?
Short answer: A lot. Writing a proposal, small or big; takes a considerable amount of effort. For a large bid, proposals can be anywhere between 100-1000 pages long. The proposal writer takes much effort to write, edit and review a proposal. It takes just as much time to read, comprehend and evaluate it for the customer. At the customer’s office, managers who are to evaluate the proposal may be voracious, casual, or unenthusiastic readers. Often there are more than three evaluators who are not a homogeneous group. Hence, proposals must be filled with not just information, but with consideration and empathy towards the reader.

How can I manage the bid cycle and deliver a winning proposal?
It is vital to rely on a good proposal management software that can help you in every phase of the bid cycle. Zbizlink- proposal management and collaboration software, helps you throughout your proposal development cycle.

From helping you identify opportunities, to finding partners who can help you win. From capturing requirements, to automatically getting you answers to RFP questions. From finding templates to creating proposals on a click. From planning resources to managing workflows and approvals- Zbizlink does it all!

Zbizlink also has capture management tools and project collaboration tools to drive the proposal process so that you can focus on proposal strategy, instead of proposal logistics. Moreover, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more you can do. Do get in touch with us info@zbizlink.com or visit our website www.zbizlink.com to know more.

7 Things You Should Know Before Bidding Internationally

If you are bidding for projects outside your country, there are a few things you must be aware of: the proposal writing style, the color palettes used, the use of words and a whole host of other things matter. It would be great to have an RFP management software to manage international bids as these bids are usually more complex and need more reviews than locally sourced bids.

#1 Know the Country’s Customs
It is important to observe the usage and practices of the English language when you are writing for an international project. Make an extra effort not to sound critical of the company you are writing to or their country.

Also ensure you use the right colors in your illustrations, graphics, and photographs. For example, using black borders around a person’s photograph signifies the person’s death. The Yellow Colour signifies content relating to pornography and white signifies funerals.

#2 Know the Country’s Work Culture
Depending on where your customer is from, the work culture changes. For example, the schedule and pace of activity in Japan are very high. So, if a customer from Japan requests for the proposal to be submitted by a specific date, asking for an extension would reflect poorly on your company.

Similarly, poor mail etiquette is a serious offense if you are writing to a company in England. Ensure that nothing you say sounds impolite. No one intends to be impolite, but it is important that you anticipate the worst and double check your work before sending it.

#3 Adapt your content and solution to accommodate the country’s legal landscape, tax structures, and assessment method.
Countries vary widely in terms of a legal landscape. For example, if you are writing a proposal to a customer in Germany, the mention of claims such as “We will increase your efficiency by 20%” will be taken very seriously. Countless companies who were not privy about this were sued by their German clients when they submitted proposals with claims; they were not able to achieve. Instead, you can say, “We will assist you in improving efficiency by up to 20%”. That is more legally acceptable in Germany.

Again, here too, relying on an end to end RFP management software will give you the bandwidth to search and find content like this in your proposal that may be the cause of legal issues later.

#4 Abbreviations and Jargon
Avoiding jargon and abbreviations is an oft-discussed matter by proposal writers across the world. However, this is even more important in the case of international customers who may not even understand the word. For example, the phrase “lucked out” in Great Britain means “not lucky.” However, in the US, “lucked out” means “lucky.” Although the phrase remains the same, the meanings are diagonally opposite.

Abbreviations and technical jargon also have the potential to be misunderstood. It is a good practice always to include a guide at the end of your proposal that clarifies the meanings of words that have the potential to be misunderstood or not understood.

In Japan, people confuse between single words and plural words. This is because, in Japanese, there is no singular or plural form for a word in Japanese. Every word can be used both ways.

Relying on RFP management software like Zbizlink will allow you to find the time to make these appendices and show your customer that you empathize with them.

#5 Proposals in Other Languages
Very often, we are requested to submit proposals in Chinese, French, Spanish or German. For these scenarios, we recommend using a translation service. Translation services are available from freelancers, but it is always better to approach a professional. Ensure that you have enough time allocated for translation activities when you are writing a proposal for a customer based out of another country.

Even after you get it translated, get it rechecked by someone in your organization who understands your business what they think about the translation. Ensure that if not all, your key messages, value propositions, assumptions, and presumptions are accurately translated beyond a shadow of a doubt.

It would be best to run the proposal by a native citizen so that they can let you know if there is something that catches their eye. Local citizens can help you prevent the occurrence of an event that may be uncomfortable or offensive to your customer.

Consider using an RFP Management software to plan for complicated bid requests such as these. Zbizlink Workflows allow you to plan and execute complicated operations like this better. The dashboard also tells you who in your team can take up activities so that you can allocate work accordingly

#6 Solving these problems with graphics
The simplest and safest way to solve these problems is to make a proposal graphically rich. We do not advocate placing graphics just for the sake of placing graphics, but rather- so that readers would not misunderstand what they read. Graphics are universally understandable. Never forget to include a small description that articulates what the graphic is all about above or below the graphic. We recommend using RFP management software like Zbizlink where you can save previously created graphics and access them with ease- with a single click.

#7 How Zbizlink can help you
Zbizlink RFP management software can help you find previously written proposals with ease. You can search based on a wide range of criteria such as (but not limited to) customer name and geography to easily find previously written proposals that address the same subject. You can easily look up partners whom your organization has worked with before translating proposals.

If you are bidding in a location where you have no expertise, an RFP management software like Zbizlink can also help you assess your capabilities and can help you win as a team. It displays what each potential partner offers—mapping their credentials to yours—and it shows whether together, you meet all the solicitation requirements.

What More Can I Do To Win?

The difference between compliance and responsiveness and how to achieve both
Compliance and Responsiveness
In large bids, the amount of content, data, and information that comes in an RFP is huge. Handling so much content is cumbersome. The proposal manager must read the entire RFP and understand its requirements. It is hard enough to read and understand one big RFP. Sometimes, the proposal manager receives multiple RFPs, all at the same time. They must understand the requirements of each independent RFP without getting confused.

However, without a professional approach to proposal management, confusion ensues, and so does chaos. Somehow, the proposals are delivered, but they seldom win. There is a good reason for this: They are simply not compliant and responsive.

Most proposals that make it to the second round of an evaluation process are compliant. A few proposals are responsive. Even fewer proposals are compliant and responsive, and those are the ones that win. It is crucial that we know the difference between “Compliance” and “Responsiveness.”

Compliant Proposals
Compliant proposals meet the customer’s stated needs and requirements.

Some examples of what shows “compliance” in a proposal are given below:

Adhering to the schedule mentioned in the RFP
Adhering to the order in which the customer has requested the proposal to be laid out
Answering all the questions in the RFI
Responding to each of the RFP requirements
One great way to ensure compliance is to create a compliance matrix. The compliance matrix is a radically important part of the proposal development process. Always create a compliance matrix irrespective of the size of the bid or its due date. The table below is an example of a compliance matrix.

Compliance Matrix Compliance (Yes, No, Partial) Comments Page #
Date of submission
Delivery Address
Person to Contact
Number of pages
Content Sequence
Requirement #1
Requirement #2
Requirement #3
The compliance matrix must be created at the beginning of the proposal development process. Creating the compliance matrix in the early stages of the proposal development process ensures that everyone who is working on the bid is aware of the compliance factors.

It must be a live document that is updated throughout the proposal process. If the customer sends an amendment, an appendix or an additional requirement via email, the compliance matrix must be updated.

You can also include the compliance matrix in the proposal response which tells the customer in which page of the response document their concerns have been addressed. It will act as a checklist for both you and your evaluators to make sure that you have complied with all the stated needs and requirements in the RFP.

Responsive Proposals
Responsive proposals, on the other hand, meet the customer’s unstated needs. They don’t just give information to the customer. They give value. These unstated needs are the underlying reasons behind the customer’s articulated needs and problem statements in the RFP.

Some examples of what shows “responsiveness” in a proposal are given below:

Showcasing that you understand the customer’s business and industry
Using language in your proposal that the customer can relate with
Showing empathy to the customer’s pain points and addressing their underlying reasons
Helping the customer understand the benefits of your solution and not just its features
Finding out these unstated needs and reasons behind the RFP takes a considerable amount of research. To make your proposal more responsive, the proposal development team needs to perform thorough mining through market intelligence. They must collect notes from the meetings with customers. They must sift through annual reports. In developing a strategy, they must involve other personnel in your company who had worked with the customer before and understood them.

Often, there is an overwhelming amount of information that comes from this kind of research. Moreover, the proposal development team may be misled to believe that all this information is equally important. The business development team must know how to curate and find information that matters. Otherwise, the hunt for unstated needs will distract them from compliance. Like we mentioned before, winning proposals are both responsive and compliant. If a proposal is only responsive, it will fail to even qualify for the next round.

If you have a tool that can help you track and manage compliance automatically, it gives you more time to enhance responsiveness. Using Zbizlink, you can easily track and manage compliance requirements of the customer. All you need to do is to upload an RFP document to Zbizlink. The tool automatically fetches basic compliance criteria.

It helps you save much time. That way, you can spend more time building a proposal that exhibits responsiveness and empathy, without compromising on compliance. Get compliant and responsive with Zbizlink today!

How To Win A Local Government Contract?

Winning a government contract is the most challenging task for government contractors. To ensure that they should develop a robust proposal response for the government, contractors need to keep the following points in mind.

Thorough Research- Understanding the requirements of government procurement is utmost important. Failing to will increase the chances of rejection. In response to federal solicitations, proposal development process could be exhausting.

Short and Simple proposal- Proposal writers need to understand that government official would not be interested in reading long documents. It is advisable that proposals should be qualitative instead of quantitative.

Selection of suitable proposal manager- Proposal writer and submission are a crucial process which needs to be supervised by an experienced manager. An experienced manager is responsible for the allocation of tasks to the team, managing resources and aligning the entire process with the upper management.

Understanding your role- Manager needs to understand that his dedication towards the work would reflect in the team; hence he should influence the team members to work at their best and to meet the deadlines.

Coordination between teams- Sales team is responsible for identifying the opportunities and coordinating with the manager. The manager is responsible for allocating the tasks to the team of writers. Sales team guides the entire team to develop the response.

Efficient technical writers- Responding to federal solicitors is no cakewalk. A competent technical writer with the knowledge of terms related to government contracts would be an ideal choice for a writer. Response to the government should reflect an understanding of the subject that has been addressed in the document.

Plan of action- An effective proposal should consist of an effective action plan. Without an action plan, the proposal will sound vague and virtual. It is better to give a sketch of the project which the company is planning to propose so that government officials get familiar with the approach of the applicant.

Strengths and weaknesses- Emphasizing the strengths develop a sense of credibility in the mind of the reader. At the same time, it is also advised that one should never hide their weaknesses. While writing a proposal, weaknesses should be reflected as a turning point for the company. This not only shows that the applicant has enough experience but also reveal that the company is ready to learn from past experiences and is continuously growing as well as evolving.

Competitive advantage- Why the company is different from others? Proposal writer should know how to differentiate the company from the rest by highlighting the competencies of the applicant. Government officers read numerous proposals; hence it is essential to make the proposal stand out from the rest.

By following the tips mentioned above, proposal writers will ensure the success of the company they are writing for.

5 Things RFP Writers Want Proposal Writers To Know

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.

Why Zbizlink Is Different

Zbizlink—an enterprise proposal creation and management tool that does everything you want it to do, and so much more! It is a powerful, multitiered application that manages the entire proposal lifecycle from capture to contract. There are many other tools which claims to be dream tool. Here comes how Zbizlink makes a difference?

Qvidian Proposal Automation (QPA) looks like an impressive tool and Upland Software seems to be offering the same “Agile/Customer-First” approach we embrace at ZDAAS. It looks like QPA was designed to integrate with Salesforce, but maybe it works just as well on its own. Our tool CAN integrate with Salesforce, or any of your existing systems, but it was designed as a stand-alone independent proposal tool that functions to maximum advantage without any integration. It contains its own SharePoint library and contracts database. It is Word compatible and it can easily upload and download files from (or to) your hard drive or other systems.

Here is a very big difference. QPA targets medium and larger companies. We designed Zbizlink for ANY size organization, from very small to very large. The exact same Zbizlink package that we sell to large companies is available to smaller companies who cannot afford QPA, and they will get the same excellent customer service. Most likely, most of our customers will not use Salesforce, and many of them will not have that kind of budget. But with Zbizlink, they won’t need a big budget, and, by itself, it will handle all their proposal needs. ? So, these are some of the Zbizlink advantages I have ascertained, so far:

#1) Zbizlink (ZBL) is a very powerful tool that we believe can do more than QPA. It is available to smaller companies who cannot afford Qvidian (QPA) and they will get the same hands-on customer service as the largest company would get.

#2) With QPA, it is not possible to recover deleted content without going through their support team. ZBL never deletes anything, it only archives deleted files. Everything is easy to find or recover, even if you have deleted it.

#3) Using QPA, according to one review we read, a user can wait up to 20 minutes to process requests “depending on how taxed Qvidian’s servers currently are.” ZBL, which is also a cloud-based system, processes user requests concurrently in real-time and offline mode. It uses a modular system, which speeds up processing. You never have to wait more than a few seconds, and most actions are instantaneous.

#4) In QPA, SMEs need a license to use some of the features. With ZBL, no license is required. You can invite and include anyone you like to collaborate with you—to any extent—no limits! You can invite people in your network or company, as well as partners or others outside your network. You assign users a role and they can access any content accessible for that role. (You can easily change access parameters any time.)

#5) ZBL helps you create an organization profile and imports your data directly from your LinkedIn page and/or SAM (the System for Award Management, the government’s online information database about vendors who supply goods and services to federal agencies). I do not believe that QPA can do this. Your profile page allows you to promote and brand your company.

#6) After ZBL’s assistance wizard has guided you through your profile creation, you can post company or project updates and share information to your friends, partners, colleagues, or to the community at large—on LinkedIn, Twitter, Gab, Facebook, etc., right from the ZBL app. I do not believe that QPA can do this either. Soon you will be able to make your ZBL profile show up in general search engine results as well.

#7) In ZBL, as in QPA, we offer automated workflows that track progress and notify users when content is ready for their review. ZBL also tracks actions to build audit trails. But in Zbizlink, you can email and comment in real time, on any module. (Very soon there will be a live chat feature as well.) You can send and receive reminders and notifications from any module as well. Maybe QPA also allows user to perform all these tasks from any module as well, but they do not mention it on their website or in their demo.

#8) Customized reporting in Qvidian requires coding knowledge. ZBL reporting is user friendly. Standard reports are available, and ad hoc and customized reports are easy to create, with no coding knowledge required. We offer free support to customize any report you need, any time. We do not believe that QPA offers this.

#9) ZBL’s Home page is a user-friendly dashboard, which is the brain and the portal of ZBL. It displays your project status (any number of projects) and metrics, and the content you see is customized to your role. Everyone on your team can access this information. From the dashboard, you access any feature you like and all everything you need. This offers a big advantage over most of the other proposal software.

#10) ZBL offers a capture management function that maps your capabilities to solicitation requirements, which helps you make a Go or No-Go decision. QPA does not offer this.

#11) ZBL offers a Candidate & Partner Matching feature. Our tool can already search thousands of companies and locate a good match for you to partner with, based on the requirements of a given solicitation. It can also map your combined qualifications to the requirements. It can automatically send an introduction and an invite to any potential partners you select, to begin communicating. QPA does not offer team-building assessment features.

#12) ZBL can help you locate and contact potential candidates to fulfill contract requirements. Based on the requirements, it searches your ZBL database and contacts resources. (You are continually adding and updating your ZBL resource pool, which eventually contains thousands of candidates and all their information.) We do not believe that QPA does this.

#13) ZBL offers a unique customized Proposal-Specific Resume Builder. Since solicitations frequently require specified resume formats and data for each resume you submit, ZBL streamlines this process for you. It creates a resume template, based on the solicitation, and automatically fills in the data from your candidate’s existing resume, creating a new one that meets the requirements. QPA does not offer this time-saving feature.

#14) ZBL also allows you to share and/or market your employee’s profiles to external clients—this helps you provide staffing services even when proposals are not required. We do not believe that QPA offers this way-beyond-proposal (but very related) service.

#15) ZBL stores and files all government, client, and/or partner reviews, feedback, and ratings, and it associates this data with each proposal or related/relevant content. It also saves and stores your notes on solicitations that you bid on, and those that you did not. The ZBL library provides all the information, notes, and data you need—relating to your proposal strategy and history. We do not believe that the QPA database stores all this supporting information related to each bid and solicitation.

#16) In QPA, some of the features, such as certain search options, are color coded. People who are color blind (and there are many such people) cannot conduct searches properly. We only use color coding as a secondary accent—not as a prime distinguisher.

#17) Our tool was built using the Shipley Business Processes Development Model, which is one of the top-rated proposal process frameworks (if not THE top rated). QPA does not mention that they use this model, on their site or in their demo, but maybe they do.

#18) When we read, “Qvidian’s SMB and enterprise pricing information is available only upon request,” and, “Contact the company for more details, and ask for your quote.” To us, that says, “Expensive.” ZBL was created with the prime goal of making the entire proposal process super accessible and transparent. All of our general information is accessible and transparent. Our extremely reasonable prices are published right on our Home page. https://www.zbizlink.com/ — just scroll to the bottom of the screen. And we offer half price to small businesses. We are a small business, so we give them special treatment.

#19) QPA identifies a requirement and then allows you to select from a content list from previous proposals (or from any content that contained the same requirement, pre-selected by SME’s). ZBL searches a much larger and broader range of files and sources—as large as you like—giving you a much better selection to choose from. Any folders on your hard drive or systems that you sync with ZBL can be searched. This way, you will always find the most relevant content to use—no matter where it happens to be. ZBL also allows you to add and subtract, cut, paste, and combine, from a wider variety of sources and files. And all of this reduces your dependence on SMEs, since a wider range of material is available to all users.

#20) ZBL has a community focus. As more users sign on, this community will grow, and more special community-oriented features will be available. Already ZBL can search thousands of vendors and contractors registered in SAM, using a sophisticated search engine that enables a wide range of search parameters that is not available anywhere else. This feature allows you to locate the best partner for each solicitation or bid. You can also search and connect with other ZBL users, to partner, hire, collaborate, or promote your brand or services (such as recruiting and staffing). No other proposal tool incorporates networking and business and community building like ZBL.

#21) Upland Software (which acquired QPA in 2017) sells several software products. Their customer service is excellent, and we applaud them. Nonetheless, the tried and true RoboHelp isn’t quite as good as the next generation’s Flare. Like the Flare team, we believe you can raise the bar, even on a great product. The fact that QPA is a great application is one more reason why ZBL must be ahead of its time to be relevant, and why we must ensure that our customers not only have everything they need, but everything they want. If they don’t have it—we’ll have to make it. We have only one product and we are giving it everything we got. We want our users to stay with us and grow with us. We are making a tool that can do more—one that is accessible to more businesses, for less money. We aim to have 100,000 clients worldwide and treat each one like our first. ?

Please note that our quick analysis of QPA is purely based on their videos and demo online. We focused only on distinct features we could compare between ZBL and QPA— those we were believed were different.