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How to Write a Business Proposal

How to Write a Business Proposal ?

Learning how to write a business proposal is critical to winning new business. In this article, you will learn how to start a business proposal, how to write a business proposal effectively, and how to conclude a business proposal with a persuasive ending.

Mastering how to write each of these business proposal areas will help you deliver a well-structured, well-defined solution for your RFP response. We want to make sure you have everything you need to be successful. Several other areas will be addressed as you read including how to understand the customer, how to evaluate your competition, and how to leverage the right resources to finalize the business proposal prior to deadline.

What is a business proposal?

A business proposal is a solution-oriented document that organizations write in response to a request for proposal (RFP). External organizations and government agencies will solicit RFPs to procure resources for a project or need that they cannot fulfill with internal resources only.

Organizations that receive and respond to the RFP – bidders – submit business proposals to bid on the opportunity to win the business contract. A business proposal contains specific and detailed information including an Executive Summary, Technical Proposal, Cost Proposal, and supporting information like Terms of Agreement and attachments.

How to Start a Business Proposal

Truthfully, gaining new business begins well before an RFP is released. Think about how any other agreement happens. If someone knows you, they are more likely to be receptive to what you have to say or offer. External organizations are more likely to choose partnership with companies that are familiar and offer the right solutions. It is recommended that you build a relationship with the customer and the decision makers over time rather than just rely on your proposal.

Finding the Best Teaming Partners

Grab customer attention right from the start with your business proposal when you show understanding of the customer, the customer background, and the customer’s industry. That means starting the business proposal does not begin with jumping into writing. It starts with good old-fashioned relationship-building, evaluation of the opportunity, and review of the RFP.

Here’s how to start the business proposal once you have the RFP:

Step 1: Read the RFP

Thoroughly review the client-issued RFP. The RFP will contain pertinent information related to the client’s requirements, the contract terms, and the project that needs support. Understand every nuance of the RFP to ensure you know how to write a business proposal. If limited on time, an RFP software with an RFP Parser will save you substantial time.

  • Verify that you can meet the client requirements. There are some areas that may inhibit your ability to effectively respond to the RFP with a business proposal. For instance, if you cannot meet the allotted budget or given timeline, then you ought not submit the proposal. Otherwise, consider partnering with an organization that can help you close requirement gaps.
  • Gather questions to ask the client. Prior to starting the business proposal, get as much clarity as needed on the client requirements, the RFP itself, and any other questions that are permitted to send to the Purchaser or RFP personnel. Some of the questions you may want to think about are:
    • Were there any prior attempts made to address the issue. If yes, what were the results?
    • What are the evaluation criteria for proposal submissions? Specify the evaluation process.
    • What are your concerns about the current vendor?

Step #2: Format Your Business Proposal

Format the document properly according to client and your organizational standards. Think about the font size, color, page usage, outline, and all other components that will make the business proposal readable. You can format your layout before writing the bulk of the business proposal with a proposal management software.

  • Fonts. Generally, serif fonts are business appropriate and grey font helps with readability. Sometimes a client RFP will specify these details. If not, it is recommended that you use Times New Roman at 12 point.
  • Templates. Look for sample proposals used in the industry, created by your competitors, or even client-awarded proposals to get an idea of business proposal layout. There are plenty of business proposal templates online to help you make the proposal look professional.
  • Title Page. Most business proposals will have a title page or cover page. The title page comprises your organization’s name, the point-of-contact’s name, the name and organization we are submitting the proposal to, the RFP number, and the due date.

Step #3: Introduce the Problem

Introduce the client problem as soon as possible in your business proposal. Your business proposal is meant to recognize the problem and detail your solution. Usually business proposals identify the problem in simple and clear language immediately in the Cover Letter, and then again in the Executive Summary. Tailor your introduction of the problem to the client’s industry and the RFP to show your understanding. Then introduce your solution.

  • Establish the context. Introducing the problem helps you establish the context for the proposal. You must remember that the reader and the evaluator read hundreds of proposals all the time. Make it easier for them to qualify your business proposal.
  • Define terminology. Your business proposal must be tailored to the client, which means you should use their terminology and clearly define your organization’s terminology as well. With that stated, keep the business proposal as simple as possible. No need to overfill with industry jargon.

Step #4: Define a Roadmap

Business proposals are lengthy documents. Provide an overview of the business proposal components (beyond just the Table of Contents). Make sure to use the section titles and wording that is outlined in the RFP. A great place to define the business proposal roadmap is in your Cover Letter.

Here’s an example: “Part I of this response to RFP No. ### includes the Executive Summary and Company Background. Part II offers the proposed solution, timetable, and an explanation of benefits in detail. The itemized budget and a set of standard contract terms is provided in Part III. Finally, in Part IV, we summarize our experiences and solution.”

How to Write a Business Proposal Effectively

Research plays a major role before you can learn how to write a business proposal effectively. Research and analyze your product, your market, and understand your objective. Consider spending twice as much time researching, analyzing, and evaluating as you spend writing the business proposal.

Afterward, your business proposal must contain very detailed, yet concise information. For the sake of brevity, represent the solution’s benefits or other lengthy information in bullet points where possible.

Here is what you want to do:

Step #1: Suggest a Detailed Solution with Graphics

Once the problem you are trying to solve is identified, your proposal must show and tell the proposed solution. Try to be as clear as possible and demonstrate the value of your products or services. Rather than just say your organization can do “XYZ”, provide detailed examples and proof points that support your claims. Show the solution with tailored graphics that catch attention and provide a visual way to understand your explanation.

Step #2: Explicate the Benefits of Your Solution

There is more than one way to solve a problem, and your reader knows that. An effective business proposal persuades its reader that the proposed solution is the best because the benefits will be clearly defined.

Benefits that resonate with proposal evaluators include cost savings, professional expertise of the solution team, and outcomes from tailored procedures.

Step #3: Provide Evidence for Benefit Claims

Adding case studies and past performance to your proposal are strong forms of evidence. If there are no previous studies, then observation from prominent people in the industry or previous customer recommendations will suffice. A former customer could testify that you saved their business money with the XYZ solution.

Step #4: Outline Your Solution’s Schedule

Your reader wants to understand the solution and how and when you will implement it if awarded the contract. Explain the timeline for the tasks that need to be completed. It is possible that your schedule will adjust in the future, but that is understood. In fact, explain that your solution is flexible to meet changes to client’s needs. A solution schedule helps the reader understand how solution execution will fit into business objectives. Your outline should:

  • Summarize key milestones. For example, if you propose a solution to remodel a store, then you would include the start date for project planning and execution and when the store will be reopened to the public.
  • Emphasize flexibility. Overexplain that the proposed solution schedule is an estimate that may change to ensure your organization is not held liable for missed milestones.

Step #5: Determine the Budget

A budget or cost proposal may be the most critical part of the business proposal. The reader needs to know if they can afford your services, so you must include pricing and applicable terms like price guarantees. Factor anticipated risk into the pricing. For instance, you can multiply the sum of the predicted budget by 1.5 to account for any unanticipated circumstances. Initial set-up costs, labor costs, supply costs, ongoing monthly charges and maintenance charges should be included in the budget based on requirements.

Just like with your proposal schedule, explain that the budget rates are estimates and account for risk.

Step #6: Include the Contract Terms

Your reader wants to understand your terms for executing the proposed solution. Be sure to include the terms and conditions, including price guarantees in the proposal. Adding legal terms and conditions upfront, such as for the following concerns, will protect your organization from legal issues:

  • How much is being paid on the date of signing?
  • Penalties or interests calculated for late payment.
  • Cancellation policies such as pre-payment penalties.

 How to Conclude a Business Proposal

The conclusion of the business proposal is like the final chord in a song. A song’s conclusion gives the listener the final feeling, one that will be remembered forever. The same impact is true for proposal readers. As we conclude (no pun intended) this article, learn how to conclude a business proposal with these critical steps.

Step #1: Sign Off the Right Way

Once you have carefully shaped your proposal and final points, there are several ways to end a proposal with an appropriate sign off. Summarize the main points, restate the purpose, and finalize your business proposal. These areas should help you write a proper sign off to conclude your business proposal:

  • Past performance. Reference projects and past performance within the same scope as the RFP and explain the success you achieved. Make sure you summarize that your experience in these areas will ensure your solution for the prospective client. For confidential information, simply replace previous client names from the project summary with a an eye-catching description like “Multi-national Financial Services Firm Headquartered in Boston, MA”. You can also summarize information together like this: “Effectively provided Accounting and Payroll Services to 30 mid-sized businesses for the past five years.”
  • Strong team capability. You can certainly explain your team’s capabilities in the meat of the business proposal. Yet, in the conclusion, you still want to drive home that your organization offers a team of fully capable and well-experienced professionals who will oversee the project. Typically, resumes of the internal team and hired resources will be added at the end of the business proposal.

 Track your team’s information and hired resource capabilities to easily add profiles to your business proposal. A proposal management software like Zbizlink maintains a content library, autofill features, and built-in resume templates to streamline this process so that you do not have manage this information manually for every proposal.

  • Your conclusion is your last shot to shut down any possible opposition about your solution. Deliver your differentiators one more. For example, if our business proposal is to assist businesses by categorizing which employees they could fire, then we can expect opposition to rising. At the same time, if we propose to construct the company rebrand, then others in that company might obstruct it. Hence, we need to recognize and then counter any predicted opposition as: summarize the expected competitors, discuss the likelihood and raise counterarguments.
  • Cite your past performance and add references including point-of-contacts from previous clients. It is recommended to add references in table format or however the RFP requires.

Step #2: Review, Review, Review

First, pat yourself on the back for finalizing your business proposal. It is time to review it before submission. After you conclude a business proposal, set the draft aside for a day or two and then review it. Search for typo errors, accuracy of numbers, and missed requirements. Use a search and find feature in a proposal management tool to fast-track review for certain words or phrases. Shorten the proposal if necessary.

Step #3: Submit with Care

Your business proposal must be submitted based on the RFP requirements. Sometimes that is as a hard copy, via email, or via an online portal. Before submission, follow these measures:

  • Review the RFP once more and any other correspondence.
  • Remind your team of submission deadline.
  • Double check that all required components are visible, easy-to-find, and included.

For email submissions, send careful closing lines such as “We would be delighted to have you as a client,”, “We look forward to your partnership…”, and so on.

For hard copy submissions, ensure that your packaging is compliant and neat. Submit your business proposal in an organized binder unless otherwise stated in the RFP. Make sure everything is labeled according to proposal sections.

Zbizlink is a cloud-based software that provides end-to-end proposal support with automated workflows, centralized content libraries, and teaming management capabilities to help you cut down time on proposal response and find the right partners to help you.

When it comes to how to write a business proposal, leverage the right resources and the best proposal management software so that you can repeat your strategy with minimum effort.

A Capture Management Guide To Understanding Key Impacts And How To Track Them For Greater Success

A Capture Management Guide to Understanding Key Impacts and How to Track Them for Greater Success

Capture management is incomplete without a clear understanding of Purchase Triggers, Compliance, Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies.

In our first Ebook, The Introductory Guide to Capture Management and Planning, we went to great lengths to discuss what forms an effective capture plan, including the 9 qualities of good capture plans.

There is no doubt that on a theoretical front, the information you’ve read is valuable. However, implementing it, refining it, and ensuring that all captured information is well-tracked, traced and maintained is crucial.

In Volume II, we present three essential knowledge areas to ensure a leak-proof capture management framework that supports technical solutions and analysis including RAID Logs, Compliance, and Hot Buttons.

How Bid and Proposal Professionals Overcome Challenges of Working from Home

How Bid and Proposal Professionals Overcome Challenges of Working from Home

Working from home is still a highly sought-after job benefit for many professionals. In the United States, more than 4.7 million people telecommute, and the trend is growing exponentially each year. Organizations that don’t offer work-from-home (WFH) options run the risk of missing out on great talent during the hiring process or delaying business-as-usual activities during a crisis like 2020’s global COVID-19 pandemic. In this blog, we dive into working-from-home benefits and how bid and proposal professionals overcome the challenges of working from home.

Writing a business proposal is a tough business because government and commercial RFP responses take up considerable time and resources. Yet, we find that proactive capture management and proposal management, and the best proposal management software helps to maximize time and deliver winning proposals.

Working from home delivers some great benefits that help bid and proposal professionals become proactive and productive.

The Benefits of Working from Home

The benefits of working from home lead to a happier workforce increased productivity and a proactive strategy that benefits the organization. More so, you as the professional realize these three benefits working from home:

#1 You Destress

Working from home is your opportunity to stay in your PJs, relax on the couch, and be in a comfortable environment (albeit tricky with the kiddos around). You don’t have to entertain the morning or rush hour traffic. You can move around as you please, rather than being glued to your desk, and you can focus more energy on accomplishing work requirements ahead of time than on your attire, commute, lunch costs, and so on.

More than 90% of professionals prefer flexible work arrangements so that they can accommodate their work and personal needs. Flexible work arrangements, comfortable environments, and more time to focus are especially important for bid and proposal professionals who write massive RFP responses daily.

#2 Team Collaboration is Encouraged

As counterintuitive as it may sound, working from home can encourage more team collaboration and easier communication. Leveraging the right tools for communication makes it easier for people to address issues without the anxiety that comes with being in-person. Flexible work arrangements also require that people work together collaboratively in the best way possible. Thus, working from home helps team collaboration happen more frequently to get things done.

Not to mention, remote team collaboration tends to encourage relaxed interaction between team members, which helps build team rapport. Bid and proposal professionals can gain more intel from subject matter experts and team members when team collaboration is encouraged.

#3 Costs Reduce

Bid and proposal professionals save money on daily costs like gas and lunch when working from home. Organizations save money on operating costs required to sustain a physical office, and the cost of bidding on an opportunity is reduced over time because happier employees produce more proposals.

Working from home provides cost savings and output that generate higher ROI. Bid and proposal professionals can use such metrics to calculate an increase in individual win rates.

The benefits of working from home are long term and serve to balance the challenges that we list next.

Overcome the Challenges

Let’s be honest. Working from home is certainly beneficial. However, bid and proposal professionals require organization and structure for decision making and writing. Working from home can be difficult to transition into mid-proposal or to navigate if personal priorities begin to become a distraction. Some of the best ways for bid and proposal professionals to overcome the challenges of working from home include:

• Leverage of robust pipelines;
• Monitor synced schedules; and
• Leverage of shared software.

Challenge #1: Transitioning to WFH Mid-Proposal

Bid and proposal professionals are responsible for tracking and using hoards of content and information. Transitioning to work from home instead of in an office mid-proposal can cause confusion and missed requirements.

Solution: Leverage of Robust Pipelines

Leverage of Robust Pipelines

We recommend leveraging robust pipelines of information about opportunities to overcome this challenge. Your pipeline should include the full scope of the opportunity and all other decision-making criteria such as potential partner capabilities and Go/No-Go analysis. Team members who capture this information well in advance of the RFP release and make it accessible to all required parties with an RFP software or capture management solution will be able to withstand transition into flexible work arrangements without losing data or proposal progress.

Team members use the information to align responses accordingly.

Challenge #2: Distractions from Work Requirements

Working from home brings distractions. We are busy people and we have tons of responsibilities at work and at home. Working from home makes it harder to focus on work requirements only. You know what we’re referring to, right? You start to do work and then notice the laundry is not folded. Then what was supposed to be 30 minutes of folding the clothes turns into 3 hours of folding laundry and then reorganizing the kitchen pantry.

Solution: Monitor Synced Schedules

Working from home is not so distracting when your work and personal calendars are synced. As soon as you receive a bid, begin to build the pipeline and set your schedule. Align your work requirements with due dates and task assignments and monitor that schedule alongside your personal schedule to ensure that you always stay on top of what’s next. Tools that sync personal schedules or team member schedules instantaneously will help bid and proposal professionals monitor timelines, receive notifications of upcoming deliverables, and avoid distractions.

Challenge #3: Limited Collaboration Tools

Working from home without the proper collaborative setup or proposal management tool for remote teamwork will be detrimental. Bid and proposal professionals thrive in teamwork. As we mentioned up top, writing proposals take a lot of time and a lot of brainpower. Bid and proposal professionals need to be able to work together no matter the work arrangement, so organizations with limited collaboration tools are at a disadvantage when employees work from home.

Solution: Leverage of Shared Software

Collaboration tools that are specific to the proposal writing industry serve bid and proposal professionals better than universal collaboration tools. Your team should use a proposal management software that integrates all the stages of the business development lifecycle including proposal management. Working from home will be a breeze with shared proposal management software that tracks all data and communication between remote team members.

Zbizlink captures information from the start of pipeline build to Go/No-Go decision, syncs your pipeline milestones and due dates with your authorized schedules, and allows your whole team to share information online or on mobile, track progress, and automate the business development lifecycle from the RFP qualification phase to proposal writing to contract.

What is Proposal Management Software?

To answer the question “What is proposal management software,” we must first understand what a proposal is and what it contains. We must then understand proposal management, and only then, can we define proposal management software and help you determine what constitutes the best proposal management software.

What is a Proposal and What Does it Contain?

A business proposal is the single most valuable document that goes from your organization to a potential customer. Proposals contain well-structured and well-articulated solutions that your organization can offer to fix customer problems. It contains proprietary information that gives you a competitive edge. The average proposal is anywhere between 10-100 pages long. Public, state, federal and military-related proposals can even be 1000 pages long.

Multiple teams create the proposal, such as technical teams, sales teams, finance, HR, operations, legal, IT, and so on. It needs to be persuasive, compliant, responsive, and influence the potential customer (buyer) to make a contract decision favorable to your organization. Most proposals contain the following:

  • A Cover Letter: A single page document that briefs the customer on the most important benefit of what you are offering and two or three powerful statements that describe why the customer must select you over the competition.
  • An Executive Summary: A summary that briefly discusses the proposed solution and tries to persuade the customer to make the purchase. Value propositions, differentiators, discriminators, ghosts, win themes, and other persuasive contents find their place here. Sales managers often write the executive summary, yet proposal writers, account managers, or capture managers are capable to write this section as well.
  • A Solution Summary: A summary that briefly articulates the technicalities of the solution or services being offered, their benefits and features. Proposal writers write the solution summary but it needs sign-off from someone with a strong technical background.
  • Details of the Solution: In this section of the proposal, more detail on the solution is provided (if required by the customer) and your value propositions and differentiators are emphasized. Delivery managers with strong technical backgrounds or subject matter experts usually write the solution details.
  • Terms and Conditions: The terms and conditions of the solution are one of the most important pieces of the proposal. It is usually where legal teams get involved and sign-off important documents before final proposal submission to the customer.
  • Commercials: Pricing for the solution or proposed product is stated Customers expect to find detailed information on cost. Hence, finance and sales teams must articulate the commercial section while the legal team signs off on the final cost proposal.

What is Proposal Management?

Proposal management is equivalent to project management in many ways. It is complicated and has stringent deadlines with several contributors to the proposal. Often, team contributors are remote, have diverse backgrounds, and are occupied with several tasks.  It is obvious that communication is vital and collaboration is compulsory.

Time management and scheduling are of prime importance. Responsibilities are assigned to each team contributor in a structured format. All components of the proposal must be consolidated in a clear, sensible and logical manner. Effective proposal management and quality proposal management tools are the key to successful wins.

Clearly, the job of a proposal manager is hectic.

What is a Good Proposal Management Software?

Now that a proposal and proposal management are explained, let’s explore proposal management software and the quality of a good one. The role of a good proposal management software acts as an RFP software with more and cannot be understated. In fact, it is one of the most significant needs in the proposal writing process.

  • A proposal management software relieves the proposal team and allows them to focus on strategy. They bid to win, instead of bid to respond.
  • A good proposal management software most importantly helps capture customer requirements and then matches them against your capabilities so managers can make an informed Go/No-Go decision.
  • The software should also automate workflows to streamline the entire proposal process. A good proposal management software will be able to help you autofill your proposal with boilerplate and relevant content, based on the requirements.
  • A good proposal management software allows real-time collaboration and clear communication channels, such as automated notifications, live chat, and reminder emails.

“What is measured improves.” – Peter F Drucker

Zbizlink is a good proposal management software to consider that does all the above and more. Its real-time analytics and dashboards allow you to view the status of your proposals so that you can never miss a deadline. Moreover, you can always review your proposal team’s effectiveness and efficiency with Zbizlink’s archives.

Want to see for yourself? Give it a test drive.

The Introductory Guide to Capture Management and Planning

The Introductory Guide to Capture Management and Planning

The methodical layout of capture planning and management serve a two-fold purpose. It is designed to provide you with the skills that will make you a better capture manager, and with the capture management strategy that overcomes planning roadblocks. Strategic capture planning and management increase win probability to a 95% confidence interval across industries. Download this guide to understand:

  • The 10 Components of an Effective Capture Management Plan;
  • How to Use Opportunity Assessment to Secure New and Repeat Business; and
  • How to Develop a Customized Capture Management Strategy.
What is Capture Management

What is Capture Management?

Capture management is one of the most critical steps in securing new business. It involves understanding your best approach to winning a business pursuit. A capture manager is concerned with the intimate details involved in creating winning partnerships, leveraging the best proposal management software with capture management solutions, and mapping capabilities with requirements. This article will help you understand capture management and why it is important.

What is capture management?

According to Shipley, capture management is akin to opportunity management and requires a disciplined approach to qualifying business opportunities and developing a win strategy to improve your probability of winning a strategic opportunity.

Capture management is all about qualification.

The full business development lifecycle takes quite a bit of time, strategy, and resources prior to signing on the dotted line of a new contract. Thus, qualification and using proposal management software ensures that you are not wasting time on the wrong opportunities. Before and after capture management, there are other critical steps.

First, there’s relationship building with the would-be client, then capture strategy, developing the proposal comes next, and then if all goes well a new business deal is on the table. Each step matters and strengthens the outcome of the next one; thus, an RFP software or proposal management tool will reinforce your capture management strategy.

As it relates to capture management, it is critical for a very simple reason. It makes no sense to go after a deal that you do not completely understand or are not qualified to pursue. Why? Well, the would-be client is not going to pick just anyone to manage its million-dollar deals. It will choose the prospect that has invested visible time understanding them and who can truly provide the required solutions.

What does capture management determine?

Capture management professionals are concerned with understanding the facts and figures of a potential business relationship so that it is clearly understood as a good opportunity to pursue.

Capture management helps the pursuing organization determine:

  • Qualified resources including team members and candidates
  • Teaming partners and competitive subcontractors
  • Capability and would-be client requirement alignment
  • Solutions that answer would-be client pain points
  • Potential revenue for the awarded contract

Good capture strategy will analyze information and score an opportunity within a range of less than 75% to more than 90% – the former indicating a weak win probability and the latter demonstrating a strong win probability for the opportunity.

Download the Introduction to Capture Management and Planning E-Book

Zbizlink’s capture management solution guides you step-by-step through the identification of targeted market segments to collecting customer intel, and all the way to the Go/No-Go decision. At every stage of capture management, you add value with more detail and better strategy.

How to Make a Sales Proposal Fun to Read

How to Make a Sales Proposal Fun to Read

Every good sales proposal is informative, clear, concise, engaging – and even fun to read. We know the excitement of presenting your company’s capabilities on paper can lead to a content dump of your entire capability register into the request for proposal (RFP) response. Yet, it is possible to create a high-quality sales proposal that is effective, compliant, responsive, and won’t put your reader to sleep. Here’s how to make a sales proposal fun to read:

zbizlinkTell a StoryWrite a clear narrative that engages the reader, uses brand voice, and connects your solution to requirements. 1Use You” LanguageTalk about the buyer more than you talk about yourself and maintain second-person POV.2Use Armative StatementsUse armative statements and active voice to excite the reader and reinforce your sure-re solution.3Show and TellUse graphics to create eye-catching sales proposals that draw attention and make solutions easier to understand.4Add ValueBe creative and add value in your section titles, graphic captions, and response answers. 505 Ways to Make Your Sales Proposal Fun to Read

Tell a Story.

Sales proposals that create a chronological narrative of solution and events tend to grab more attention than over-selling content or irrelevant answers. To tell a story with your sales proposal:

  • Write your responses in a clear order narrative using the funnel approach
  • Connect successor responses to predecessor content
  • Write like you’re speaking to the decision-maker
  • Maintain brand voice throughout the document
  • Use conversational language

Answers can work together to make a clear narrative for an engaging story. When you endeavor to write your next sales proposal remember to set the stage for your reader with storytelling techniques that map to client requirements. Proposal management software or RFP software can help you map your story to RFP requirements.

Use “You” language.

What’s more fun than reading about yourself? We know you’re compelled to write about how wonderful you are and why you’re fit to win the contract. While you certainly are wonderful, try to talk about your company a little less and talk about the buyer more. Start your responses with “you” language and continue to use the same second-person POV throughout the sales proposal.

Simply pause when you feel compelled to mention your company and consider if that is a good opportunity to mention the buyer and use “you” language instead.

Use of “you” language helps the reader feel that your proposal is speaking to them and that your company is highly invested in solving their problem.

Use Affirmative Statements.

Your sales proposal is presenting a solution to the buyer’s problem. It should read as a positive document stuffed with affirmative statements that your company’s capabilities can support. Present your solution as a sure-fire answer to the current buyer’s pain points (remember not to overpromise). Use affirmative statements that reassure the reader of your proposed solution and avoid using negative wording like “not”, “unlike”, or “in the event”.

Show and Tell.

A visually appealing sales proposal is more effective as an attention-grabber than the most well-planned written document. Solutions and lengthy content can be uniquely explained with both text and graphics, especially when your proposal includes a complex solution.

Convenience of COTS

Graphics help show a solution, while content can support the graphic with an explanation. Show and tell to support your story narrative and to minimize confusion, particularly if you do not have a relationship with the buyer.

Add Value.

The most effective way to make a sales proposal fun to read is to add value throughout the entire document. Your proposal is speaking to someone – a reader. It is not a manifesto of your company’s every accomplishment, nor is it meant to be without creativity or relevance.

Add value with titles, graphics captions, and answers (of course) that state a benefit or reference a solution outcome. The best proposal management software will add value along the business development lifecycle for you.


Generic Title: “Solutions Overview”

Value-Based Title: “Solutions That Lead to a 33% Increase in Efficiency”  

Feel empowered to state the value of your solution in section titles instead of just stating the name of the section. Unless instructed differently in the RFP, it is okay to get creative in how you name and position content.

Templates Management

Build customized templates that autofill content and map to requirements.

Templates Management
05 Ways to Improve Your RFP Response Process in 2020

05 Ways to Improve Your RFP Response Process in 2020

Processes adapt as times change and, believe it or not, the RFP response process is the same way. We decided to think about how to take a structured and matter-of-fact process and refine it with innovation and creativity. After considering the many challenges proposal writers and proposal teams face, here we are with 05 ways to improve your RFP response process in 2020.

Whether it was inefficiency that brought you here or curiosity, picture your current process flow and how to use these 05 tips.

#1 Define Process Transparency

We can’t tell you how many times a proposal writer or business owner revealed that they did not have a “process” for responding to RFPs. There were no predefined steps – they just got it done.

While that is understandable and pretty common, it might not be the best way to get the results you want. A defined RFP response process backed with a quality RFP software helps you replicate repeatable solutions and swiftly onboard new teaming partners. It can even be unique to your organization and the way you do business.

RFP Response Process Visibility and Dashboards

Define process transparency for all stakeholders with:

  • Guidelines for sourcing new opportunities (Databases, Networks, etc)
  • Defined target markets and annual revenue per contract
  • Synced collaboration spaces with a shared repository
  • Reporting and timetable visibility during the proposal development lifecycle
  • Guidelines on role-specific requirements

You’ve written proposals. You know how it works, but maybe you were previously managing each component manually or your team worked in silos. Process transparency will keep everyone informed, especially with unexpected changes, and make your life easier. Use a proposal management software to track information and offer the team visualization tools.

#2 Plan for Opportunity Assessment

Avoid waiting to the last minute to make a Go or No-Go decision or responding to every RFP that comes your way. Plan for opportunity assessment in a strategic and time-worthy manner. Begin to build your pipeline once you have an inkling of information for an upcoming bid or opportunity. Just having a client name or market is good enough to begin the assessment.

When you gain more information along the way, by the time the RFP is released, you will have a clear understanding of how to respond and of the best partner matches. Planning ahead saves you time and loss of money from making the wrong decision.

#3 Fast Track Proposal Management

Proposal management is mission-critical to improving the RFP response process. It is the one factor that can make or break your chances for cutting response time in half and winning the next contract. New opportunities come up quickly and we don’t want you to be overwhelmed. We want you to win!

Fast-track proposal management with:

  • Clear segmentation of the RFP
  • Adaptive compliance matrices
  • Automated proposal management tools

Increased efficiency without a reduction in quality is a tricky business, but possible. In 2020, it is all about maximizing effort with the tools and processes that add value, which brings us to the next point…

#4 Leverage AI and Technology in the Right Places

Leverage AI and Technology in the Right Places

We are in the age of AI. Technology is leading the way we do business and orchestrating our daily lives. You are a writer and maybe could care less yet AI is driving your craft too. The same way that you don’t hesitate to power on your computer or pick up your cell phone, technology and AI are driving how we do everything – including managing the RFP response process.

Before you skip to the next point, take a look at some new ways to improve some old habits:

  • Use AI to make smarter decisions
  • Use SaaS solutions to connect worldwide
  • Maximize efficiency with multiple team members

You cannot be everywhere at once, or mentally note every single requirement in a 200-page RFP. These are things for technology. This is your year to embrace the power of technology and leverage it for better outcomes.

#5 Refine Collaboration

Remote and fast-moving proposal teams need to adopt well-oiled collaboration. Though we’re often skeptical of tools and software, and for good reason, the best proposal management software will help reduce the barriers to good teamwork. Evaluate what works best for your RFP response process and choose a software that allows you to gain 24/7 access, manage the entire process in one secure space, and implement project management.

Zbizlink links each of these tips into a single, SaaS solution. Request a demo.


Finding the Best Teaming Partners

04 Tips to Finding the Best Teaming Partners for Government Contracts

Finding the best teaming partners for government contracts gives you a competitive edge. Your capabilities are strong in one area, and it just makes sense to partner with another organization that is strong in another area. It even benefits you in the short term since the proposal development lifecycle is so comprehensive. Partner with an organization that will help deliver a quality proposal to the government buyer.

Here’s the math: One strong partnership + one strong proposal = closed-won government contract.

Seems like good odds, right?  Reference these 04 tips to finding the best teaming partners for government contracts as you pursue business with the federal, state, or local government:

#1 Be Attractive

It is your job to be a quality partner yourself. The best way to be attractive to other organizations open to partnership is to ensure that your capabilities are clearly defined, accessible for discovery and that you have a successful track record with previous partnerships.

A public profile portal or proposal management tool will allow you to find partners and be found for future opportunities.

Small business owners are reluctant to partner with larger organizations as prime or subcontractors if past performance reveals that contract wins have only benefitted the latter rather than all contractual parties. Yes, fulfilling MBE or other related requirements is important to win government contracts, but honoring the relationship secures a mutually beneficial partnership in the long term.

On the flip side, larger organizations are seeking small business partners that maintain certifications and great skills. Thus, whether the partnership will be small-to-small or small-to-large, your organization must make a good first impression – so be attractive.

#2 Streamline Search Based on Skill

Once you’ve determined your strengths as a partner, next understand your skill and capability deficiencies. It is okay. Specialization is a good thing, and it means that your organization is a great partner for that specialized capability. Your partner should do the same for you – add specialized skills to the partnership.

Identify skills deficiencies and categorize them under a NAICS code. Categorization will help target organizations and government segments so that you are not blindly selecting partners.

Next, select the best match for partners based on skill and past performance. Simply search for the skill in a shared database like Zbizlink’s proposal management software and qualify partner candidates.

#3 Leverage Your Network

Connecting with your network is one of the best sources for quick partner collaboration. You can reduce search time and eliminate the same headache for another organization. Everyone’s happy.

Happiness is a solid start to a partnership, don’t you think? Use social media channels and RFP software integrated with external portals to publicize the opportunity or connect with other business owners at bidder conferences and trade association meetings.

Your network is overflowing with businesses that want to win government contracts too.

#4 Partner with Competitors

It sounds crazy but consider it for just a second. Double your chances to win and team with a competing organization. You both are passionate about securing business with the government; thus you don’t have to worry about the organization not putting the best foot forward in collaboration.

The trick is deciding if you will be a prime, subcontractor, or explore a joint venture, but in truth, there is an opportunity in each. Iron out the terms and solidify a winning partnership.

Zbizlink will help you invite potential partners to a new opportunity, store partner profiles, and match skill with opportunity requirements for a quick and accurate solution to finding the best teaming partners for government contracts.

How to Shred the RFP in 03 Steps

How to Shred the RFP in 03 Steps

Proposal teams that understand how to shred the RFP with RFP software maximize efficiency for greater productivity and ultimately more proposal wins.

RFP review is one of the most critical steps in proposal management. It takes a lot of attention-to-detail to ensure that you don’t miss the requirements and cost your organization time or tons of money.

That’s why we wanted to share how to shred the RFP in 03 steps.

Ready. Go. Shred.

First, ensure that your organization is officially responding to the RFP prior to taking the time to shred its requirements. Just mosey on over to management’s office and double-check that this RFP is a Go.

Once approved, now you’re ready to leverage proposal management tools and shred the RFP. Make your life easier with an RFP Parser so you don’t have to do it manually and reduce the risk of missing requirements in complex documents.

Step One

Select your RFP in the most manageable format and upload the document into the RFP Parser.

Upload the RFP into the RFP Parser

Step Two

Double-check that all information in the Extracted RFP window is correct and in the right sections. If there are any updates needed, use your proposal management software to drag and drop contents per section.

Don’t worry there are only nine sections to glance over, and editing is a singular action.

Parse the RFP into Manageable Sections

Step Three

Publish the extracted RFP to create parsed sections available for team assignments.

Parsed and Manageable Sections for Team Assignment

You’re done. Three steps. Yes, it is that easy – with the best proposal management software. Zbizlink’s Parser technology reads the contents of each RFP page and AI takes over to map them to the correct section.

Unbelievable? Rest assured that it is real.

Happy Parsing!