Tag Archives: proposal management software

The 20 Best Ways to Influence an RFP

The 20 Best Ways to Influence an RFP

It is easier to win an RFP response process when it is created in your favor based on your influence. The 20 best ways to influence an RFP are most effective when your organization has a strong relationship with the client issuing the bid and you begin your influence as early as possible. Think about your relationship with decision makers at those organizations. Once you determine the relationship is strong, move forward with the 20 best ways to influence an RFP.

How to determine the strength of your relationship with the client:

Loop in your sales team, capture manager, and proposal manager to have a conversation about the status of your contract with the client, your performance with the client, and the upcoming RFP release. Are you the incumbent? If so, is the client pleased with your performance or seeking to replace you? How long have you had the contract? Are your services or products an essential requirement for the scope of the upcoming project need?

Your answers to these questions will help provide a clear picture of your ability to influence the next RFP. Let’s say your relationship with the client is strong. Based on your understanding of your status with the client, tailor RFP requirements to be in favor of your relationship. As soon as possible, employ the 20 best ways to influence the RFP:

#1 Determine the project scope –

Your performance is already well perceived with the client. It is likely that the RFP is just a formality. Emphasize the technical requirements that are necessary to facilitate project transition and successful development. These skills ought to be your expertise.

#2 Influence the pricing model –

Your cost model may be ideal for the client to continue saving money or to scale resources without significant increase in cost. Influence cost requirements to mirror your current contract or perhaps better terms for your organization.

#3 Number of Awards –

Perhaps the RFP can offer more than one contract. Increasing the number of winners means you have a higher chance of being one of them. Heads up! It also has implications for vendor partnership and competition for subsequent RFP processes.

#4 Resource Quantity –

Ensure that the RFP requires the amount of resources your organization can confidently provide throughout the course of the contract.

#5 Resource Quality –

Set a standard for the types of resources required to successfully implement and sustain the project for the life of the contract.

#6 Personnel Experience –

An RFP can help identify strong vendors with resume requirements or requesting robust vendor staff experience. Ensure that your staff is well-qualified in the specified project areas.

#7 Minimum Qualifications –

Suggest minimum qualifications for vendors to be considered.

#8 Specialized Qualifications –

Suggest specialized qualifications that your organization can provide.

#9 Locations –

Perhaps the RFP can require local vendors or resources only. Maybe it is the opposite and the RFP will seek vendors who have national presence. Your influence can specify the location requirements.

#10 Project Timeline –

Ensure that the project start and prospective contract renewal terms are within a time period your organization can honor.

#11 Evaluation Criteria –

You want the final decision in your favor so work with the client to determine evaluation criteria. Perhaps there is an area that may be weighted higher to even the competition or appeal to the client.

#12 Proposal Format –

Certain proposal formats ease evaluation and will help eliminate unqualified vendors.

#13 Proposal Due Date –

Consider the RFP response process timeline and the best due date for submissions.

#14 Presentation Selection –

Determine how the post-RFP presentation will benefit vendor selection.

#15 Insurance Requirements –

Consider a minimum insurance requirement that your organization can hold under the contract.

#16 Types of References –

Discuss how many refences should be required and the level of detail each reference should present. Some RFPs require all related reference information, while others only require one that is similar in scope.

#17 MBE Requirements. It could be beneficial to open the opportunity for more subcontractors. On the flip side, this could increase competition to vendors who offer lower rates.

#18 Q&A Requirements –

Determine the level of rigidity in the Q&A period. You have direct access to the decision makers. Thus, it could be beneficial to restrict bidders from talking to people outside of the procurement officer during the RFP response process.

#19 Penalties –

The RFP response process can be strict or lenient. Consider if the RFP will add penalties such as disqualification if vendors do not completely follow the RFP requirements.

#20 Alternatives to the RFP –

There are many ways to acquire new resources or partner with different vendors. Work with the client to determine the need for a formal RFP process. Your client could be interested in saving time and acquiring resources in another way, which means you remain the incumbent.

Once you have influenced the RFP, simplify the RFP response process more with your RFP software. The best proposal management tools can help you manage the capture management process and streamline the proposal process once you have the RFP. Influencing the RFP, capturing all of the client information, and using the best proposal management software is the recipe for more contract wins.

| How to Write a Business Proposal ?

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.

How to Manage the Proposal Development Lifecycle

The development lifecycle of a proposal starts way before the RFP is received and this article will help you discover how to manage the full proposal development lifecycle. Many proposal writers seldom seem to pay attention to this and most often, it is because the process takes a lot of support and even more time. Another reason is that proposal writers do not have the right proposal management tools to help them manage and curate this information throughout the proposal development lifecycle.

In this article, we want to stress what information you must collect, and where you must begin. Collecting information never ends, but at a bare minimum, this article will tell you what to gather during the proposal development lifecycle to make your proposal persuasive, informative, and intelligent.

It starts with the sales team identifying the right market segments. Your market research teams identify and explore target markets and assess your potential to succeed in the market. Then, the benchmark your capabilities and figure out if the market is already saturated with similar players offering similar solutions. Once they have figured that out, they define a clear strategy that reduces the impact of your competition’s strengths and increases the effectiveness of your organization’s strengths. It would be great to have a proposal management software that will track these parameters- as often, this critical information gets lost in a pile of irrelevant email threads.

It is critical for any proposal author or manager to be aware of the inputs derived from previous phases of the lifecycle. Otherwise, when they write the proposal, the proposal will be void of the vital win themes that can be obtained from market assessment and strategic targeting. Therefore a proposal management software that tracks all these elements is so essential to business success

Once the market penetration strategy is developed, the organization must market the product or services they specialize in. They must implement their marketing strategy as planned, lest the potential customer misunderstands what we have to offer. In this phase, the marketing agents must note and track the conversations with potential customers, what they have to say about their needs and requirements. A proposal management software with opportunity management and assessment tools will be a great addition here to pick the right opportunities to pursue. The collection of this information and its effective duration is essential, and yet oft-ignored part of the proposal development lifecycle.

At this point, the sales team needs to circle down on the right opportunities to pursue. They must pick the battles that they can win, lest they waste their resources and energy on dreams and mirages they cannot feasibly reach. They must keep records of the strategy using a proposal management software so that those who are working on the proposal will know the strategy to implement in the writing

Once the marketing has been completed and customers are aware, the opportunities available must be assessed and funneled out. For this, the proposal development team and the sales teams must participate together in industry briefings, customer intelligence reports, and gathering specific program intelligence. At this phase, the customer’s requirements must be understood, and an initial position with the customer must be cultivated. Competitor strategies and how to overcome them must be an essential part of the opportunity assessment phase. Once all this information is collected, preferably on a proposal management software/ platform, the opportunity pursuit decision (also called Go/ No-Go decision) must be taken. Usually, organizations do not consider this information and seldom pass it on to the next and more crucial stage of the proposal development lifecycle- where the business proposal is written and developed.

The Bid Decision must be based on the answers to the following questions at a minimum:

  • Does the opportunity fit within our capabilities?
  • Who is the incumbent? Can we partner with the incumbent?
  • Do we have a good relationship with the customer?
  • Do we know and understand the client’s needs, goals and the impact of the solution?
  • Do we possess the resources and commitment to pull this off?
  • Can we deliver the proposal within the right timeframe?

It is important not just to ask these questions but also to keep the outcome within a system that can be accessed by those who are working on the proposal. If we do not have a systematic way of preserving and obtaining this crucial information, it is very likely that our win rates will succumb to the pits. A proposal management software will help to save this information and allow relevant members to access it throughout the proposal development lifecycle

Once the opportunity assessment phase is completed, we arrive at the proposal development phase. In this scenario, we either get the RFP from the customer, or we write a proactive proposal. The proposal manager must study the RFP or the statement of client requests to thoroughly understand the customer’s stated and unstated needs. Inferences need to be made, but of course, within the confines of logic. Any clarifications required are to be duly noted and circulated within the teams that are authoring the proposal. Once this is done, the team responsible must initiate a kick-off call and progress towards the development of the proposal from thereon.

The average proposal has about 100 micro iterations and ten major iterations throughout its lifecycle. Having the proposal in a single location where teams work collaboratively is a key to bidding and proposal success. We recommend using software like Zbizlink which can help you throughout the proposal development lifecycle. From capture management to opportunity assessment. From proposal development to delivery – Zbizlink is the best proposal management software to help you navigate the proposal development lifecycle.

Find the winning 03 tips to federal proposal writing

03 Tips to Better Federal Proposal Writing

Federal government requests for proposal (RFPs) are in a different ball game no matter your experience as proposal writer. Federal government RFPs are usually always harder to read with complex jargon and legal terminology layered in nearly every single section. Proposal teams can use RFP software and the below federal proposal writing tips (and a bonus tip) to respond well to a federal government 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 stressed while responding to a federal RFP. They either overthink of the RFP or too little. While you can use the above federal proposal writing tips 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 the best proposal management software.

Good proposal management software will help you organize the proposal and implement the 03 federal proposal writing tips above. 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.

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.

07 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. The fact is that you are the decision-maker and have the power to truly define what is the right proposal management tool for you.

When there are so many proposal management software out there, how do you select something that really solves your problems instead of making them worse, or at the least, does what it claims to do?

Consider these 07 quick tips to find the best proposal management tool:

#1. Relevance over aesthetics:

We’ve been given this advice since childhood: don’t fall for the shiny new thing. Yet, the human brain falls victim to how things look before full assessment takes place. Aesthetic is for date night and house warmings, not software selection. Beware of tools in the market that look great but don’t serve the purposes that matter. Aesthetics come only second to effectiveness and relevance to your problem.

#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 an RFP software or proposal management tool. Usually, out of frustration, money is thrown at the first thing that seems to give a solution.

It is a good practice to have a well-thought-out and realistic set of requirements when seeking a proposal management software. For instance, if one of your requirements is to improve communication between team members, it makes less sense to purchase a popular tool that does not offer native team collaboration features.

Focus on your key needs and priorities and seek a tool that solves the biggest problems best.

#3. The best tools can be used for free:

Vendors should offer their tool for a free trial period, or at least allow you to make the request (bet you never considered that). Take the opportunity to test and use the free version of the tool. You’re not under commitment and you have full control over your choice. During the trial, see if you are comfortable using the tool and make notes on the features and benefits to be able to reference later or show management.

#4. Does it save time and effort?

Ever chopped down a tree? If you have, you know using a chainsaw is more effective than using an ax, because it takes less time to chop a tree with a chain saw than an ax. It also reduces the effort needed to do so. Not that we recommend chopping down trees.

The point is the same logic goes for proposal management tools. Ask the following questions when making your decision:

  • Does it save time and effort in proposal development?
  • Can you quantify the time and effort saved by using the tool?
  • Will you save money or an equivalent amount of time 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?

Some proposal management tools save time, and some complicate things for the worse, but time is only one aspect to consider. The more important question that you must ask is if it will increase your likelihood of winning contracts. It will not matter if you save all the time and effort in the world if you end up losing the bid. So, ask the following questions too:

  • 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?

Again, if the answer is yes to the above three questions, you’re probably getting closer to the right decision.

#6. Can potential risks be mitigated?

Proposal development already takes too much effort. You should not also have to worry about your proposal management tool increasing risks. No, it should do the exact opposite on top of providing a solution for your initial problems. Ask the following questions about risk:

  • Will the tool mitigate your risk of non-compliance?
  • Will the tool reduce your likelihood of losing?
  • Does the tool track past performance and wins and losses to provide analysis for future strategy?

At this point, you get the idea of which option is the best choice.

#7. What are the perks?

In addition to the 07 quick tips, evaluate the best proposal management software with a few more questions:

  • Are there features in the tool that may be relevant in the future?
  • Does the vendor offer after-sales support?
  • Does the tool help you manage your pipeline?
  • Do the price and functionality justify the purchase?
  • Will there be a price hike after a specific period?
  • What are the future plans for the tool?
  • Do they want to learn your suggestions for improvements?

Making any purchasing decision is tricky business, but these 07 quick tips to find the best proposal management tool will ease your decision. It would not be right to end this checklist without telling you about the proposal management tool that answers yes to each of the above questions.

Zbizlink saves time, helps manage the proposal requirements, and collaborate with several team members in remote locations. Even more exciting for us, it parses resumes and RFPs.

Zbizlink does all of these things and more. Interested in learning more?


07 Things You Should Know Before Bidding Internationally

Bidding internationally is a tough process to wrangle.  There are a few things you should know before bidding internationally: the proposal writing style, the color palettes used, the use of words and a whole host of other things matter.

As proposals ramp up, consider the proposal management tools and subject matter experts you need to help develop proposals effectively and on time. International bidding is more complex than managing domestic or local bids.

#1 Understand the buyer country’s customs

First, observe the usage and practices of the English language when you are writing for an international project. The English language is very layered and the same words can have a very different meaning in another country.

Next, double-check your response for references to goods or services outside of the buyer’s desired practices. Overlooking this consideration can make your response seem offensive or even potential liability.

Also, be sure to use the right colors in your illustrations, graphics, and photos. Incorrect color use can send the wrong message. For example, in some countries using black borders around a person’s photograph signifies the person’s death. Yellow may signal that the content relates to pornography.

#2 Understand the country’s work culture

Depending on where you are bidding, the work culture changes. For example, the schedule and pace of activity in Japan are very high. So, asking for an extension to a Japanese buyer’s specified due date would be rude and reflect poorly on your company.

In England, poor mail etiquette is a serious offense. Ensure that your submission is not impolite in any way. No one intends to be impolite, but you must anticipate the worst possibility and double-check your work before sending it.

#3 Accommodate the country’s legal landscape, tax structures, and assessment method

The legal landscape and tax structures vary widely across countries. You must comply with contractual terms no matter if bidding internationally or not. Yet, in a country like Germany, proposals that say “We will increase your efficiency by 20%” will be taken very literally. German clients have sued vendors over proposal claims they were not able to achieve. Instead, you can say, “We will help you improve efficiency up to 20%”.

Leveraging an end-to-end proposal management software will give you the bandwidth to search and find content in your proposal that may cause legal issues later.

#4 Limit abbreviations and jargon

Avoiding jargon and abbreviations is an oft-discussed matter among proposal writers across the world. However, this is an even more important consideration in the case of international bidding. The proposal reader may not understand the jargon-heavy content. For example, the phrase “lucked out” in England means “not lucky.” However, in the US, “lucked out” means “you got lucky.”

Abbreviations and jargon have the potential to be misunderstood. It is a good practice 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 Japanese, there is no singular or plural form for a word. Every word can be used both ways.

#5 Verify correct usage of other languages

Use a professional translation service to write a proposal in a different language. Ensure that there is enough time to monitor translation activities and have the proposal reviewed prior to submission.

After the proposal is translated, get it rechecked by someone in your organization who understands your business, the language, and the country’s customs. Make certain that your key messages, value propositions, assumptions, and presumptions are accurately translated beyond a shadow of a doubt. Scan the proposal with an RFP software.

Ideally, a native-speaker or citizen liaison would be the best person to review the proposal. Native-speakers will improper address to the client.

Zbizlink workflows allow you to plan and execute complicated operations like this better with remote SMEs. Dashboards show the workload of members on your response team.

#6 Show the solution with graphics

The simplest and safest way to mitigate issues is to show the solution with graphics. Do not add irrelevant or space-filler graphics just for the sake of having them, but as guides to help the reader understand the content.

Graphics are universally understandable. Yet, never forget to include a title and caption that articulates the value of the graphic.

#7 Use analytical tools to help you

Use a trusted analytical tool and machine learning rather than attempt to tackle such a large task and leave chance to human error. Zbizlink enables your team to identify repeatable solutions and best practices for ongoing success.

Leverage proposals that were previously written and are similar in nature to respond to your next international bid. Save yourself the much needed time for translation services and compliance review. Zbizlink allows you to shred complex documents for all proposal requirements, identify compliant business partners, collaborate effectively with remote SMEs, and identify resources who are skilled in the required language.

Zbizlink helps you assess your capabilities if you are bidding internationally or in a new location where you have limited expertise.

05 Things RFP Writers Want Proposal Writers To Know

There’s a few things RFP writers want proposal writers to know. In this series, we discuss a few topics that lie at the heart of RFPs and proposal writing to help you look a little deeper into the strategies you use to create winning proposals, as well as how to enhance synergy among the RFP and proposal writer alliances of the world. If you’re new to proposal writing, this is for you too.

In case you’re wondering whether this will be something you’ve already read before, hang in there. At the end of this, you will look at RFPs differently, and maybe then, you will be able to respond to them differently too. FYI, the right understanding, the right RFP management and proposal management software, and the right strategy are the tools you need to win the next big contract.

First, some background…

If an organization has a problem or a target they are not able to meet on their own, they conduct procurement series and allow vendors to bid on the opportunity to fulfill those needs as a contractual supplier.

Vendors receive a document that has a detailed list of client requirements – this is the RFP (or other procurement related document). Then vendors respond to these clients within a specific response period, called a proposal deadline, with strategy to win the project or contract.

You – if you’re the proposal writer – help to represent the vendor as you write the response, and the company or government agency that releases the RFP is the prospective client with whom you’re helping to build a relationship.

Now that you understand the importance of your role in gaining new business and relationship building…

Here are 05 key insights that RFP writers want proposal writers to know:

#1. It is called a “deadline” for a reason

Hear us out. Rumor has it that the word “deadline” was based on the phrase “dead line”- a line or phrase used in the prison system. Prisoners were shot if they ever crossed the “dead line.” At the risk of getting too grim, let’s put this into context. When you respond after crossing the due date deadline, you get shot (or eliminated) from bidding. Your proposal response that you worked so hard on is not even considered.

It is very important to respond on time.

Clients send RFPs with the expectation that you will deliver the proposal before the deadline. Clients provide deadlines because they have deadlines too.

It takes a lot of time to read multiple proposals from vendors and decide which offers the best solution, and which vendor actually aligned their response with RFP requirements. Then there are internal deadlines to notify the winner(s). Thus, it is highly favorable for bidders to submit proposals on time and not request for extensions. A good RFP software with team collaboration tools can help streamline your proposal process.

#2. You need to read the entire RFP before responding to it

We understand. You’re busy. You probably have another proposal already in the queue, and you’ve done this before so you know where to look. Yes, deadline is important, yet compliance outweighs other priorities.

Proposal writers often skim through RFPs without devotedly reading. As a result, they miss important compliance factors and with one missed requirement, the vendor that your proposal represents is out of the bid race for reasons that could have been avoided. Either take the time to read each section, especially for federal government RFPs, or purchase the software that will help you parse the RFP faster and more accurately.

#3. You need to understand the requirements before you respond

Storytime: A company in the semiconductor industry sent out a simple RFP for staff augmentation. The project required engineers capable of cabling semiconductors. Semiconductors are very small devices that require the expertise of experienced engineers.

Somehow, one of the vendors who sent a proposal responded without understanding the requirement. The vendor’s proposal did an excellent job of explaining how they were the best partner for wiring and cable TV installation.

Yes! This is a true story!

It’s funny to read, but quite embarrassing to experience as a vendor. Those who lose bids are told, “You did not understand our requirements” or “Your solution had nothing to do with our problem.”

It is very easy to avoid this sort of industry-spread embarrassment. Thoroughly read the RFP – the entire thing.

#4. Presenting no partner is better than a noncompliant one

Clients find proposals less valuable when the partners picked for a bid are noncompliant or improperly validated. It is important to find the right partner when you are partnering to respond to an RFP.

Poor partner selection will cause you to lose the bid or incur damages in the future partnership. If the client identifies that the partner does not comply with some standards mentioned in the RFP, again your proposal will be thrown out.

Even if your vendor is planning to partner with a familiar organization, ensure that they are still up-to-date with all certification and other requirements.

#5. Format the proposal to match the RFP

Poorly formatted proposal responses are the easiest way to be noncompliant or lose the reader’s attention during evaluation. Guess what happens to a proposal that is hard to follow.

Often, poor formatting is the result of scrambling to put together a last-minute response or someone from a technical background writing the proposal. Technical SMEs are often concerned with technical explanation and less about structure.

A poorly formatted proposal reflects poorly on the vendor who sent it. It’s common sense: “That’s a shabby document. A shabby vendor sent it”. Avoid poor formatting and take your time to align the proposal response sections to the RFP sections.

We know this takes time, so get some extra help. Use ready-made proposal templates or the best proposal management software to customize each response template based on the requirements of each bid.


When you respond to your next bid, think about the RFP writer and the people who have to read every single proposal submitted. Keep them in mind and we’re sure your proposal will be chosen as a winner.