Regardless of the sector you work in, we are seeing a significant increase in the competition to win tenders, that means you’ll need a winning proposal. Clients are now demanding more from their suppliers and advisors and with that in mind, this has caused a shift in what your clients now expect to see in your RFP response.
Making your offering stand out from your competitors (for the right reasons!) is of course one of your main goals when writing a proposal. But how do you do this? Below I’ve covered some of the key things to consider when writing a winning proposal with commentary on other articles that support my thoughts.
Round up: What’s needed to write a winning proposal response?
How to write a bid proposal, John Boitnott, Digital Consultant, Jotform.
John writes that you should have “specific guidance that outlines how you should approach, complete, and deliver on the project and the proposal. If they don’t include that, ask them for it.”
It is very important to understand what the client is specifically looking for in terms of the deliverables of the project and the response document. If you are not sure, as John says, ‘ask them.’ This will show them that you are being proactive and client-centric in your approach which will give the client a good indication of how you will assist them should they appoint you.
Everything you need to know about writing the winning bid proposal, Richa Roy, Tendersinfo.
Throughout the tender process you should always, as Richa says, “put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.”
Using this approach, you will be able to focus your content on areas that are most important to the client. If you are not sure about what is specifically important to your client, you really need to check in with them and understand. Writing based on the client’s perspective will help you identify what solutions you can offer based on their specific requirements.
Five things to remember when writing your first bid, Tom Wilde, Emphasis.
Without understanding or listening to what your client’s specific needs are, it will be hard to tailor your content which will leave you in danger of producing generic content. As Tom says, “a bid is not an info packet. It’s a persuasion tool.” Proposals that only really list generic facts about the firm, e.g., how many offices they have, how many sectors they work in, etc., are simply not persuasive. Proposals that cut all that generic content out and focus on specific needs and solutions are persuasive.
Business winning tip: Writing clear proposals, Shipley Associates.
This article highlights that “jargon reduces the persuasiveness of documents.” I completely agree! Persuasive content is not just about ‘what’ you say but also, ‘how’ you say it. This is linked with the ‘put yourself in the buyer’s shoes’ point. Ensure that the technical language you use fits the audience that will read (and judge) your response document.
This article goes one step further and says that “unfamiliar jargon can even give an arrogant tone.” You could argue that this is quite an extreme outcome when using jargon. Either way, your key messaging will get diluted if you use technical language that the reader will not understand.
RFP presentation tips: 4 ways to make your RFPs stand out, Christina Carter, Ombud.
Once you have your persuasively written tailored solutions, you need to, as Christina says, “show the evidence” and prove that you are able to deliver the proposed solutions.
Data suggests that rather than providing a long list of projects/engagements you have worked on, instead produce 1-3 more in-depth case studies on your experience that most closely fit your proposed solutions. This will enable the client to better visualise how you will work with them to help achieve their objectives.
Ingredients of a winning proposal, Shipley Associates.
Just like going to buy a new car or eating a delicious meal, your first impressions are often through your eyes. As the article states, “people look first, then read. A good proposal design entices readers.” To put the importance of this into perspective, at a previous firm, I was put through professionally delivered InDesign training as clients are demanding more creative document design. Clients like to feel valued and producing creative designs tailored to them shows them that they are not ‘just another client.’
Conclusion: Core Components of a Winning Proposal
The goalposts for producing a winning tender have shifted significantly. Clients often reject ‘off the shelf’ content and want to know specifically what solutions you will offer and how they will be delivered. We have therefore seen our client’s invest significant resources into their internal proposal functions. This ensures that they can keep up with their clients’ demands and do all they can to stand out from competitors.
With this in mind, how well do you feel your internal proposal function operates? What are your strengths? What could you do better?
We would love to share our knowledge and experience with you, so do get in touch!
Need help writing a bid or RFP response? Find out more about how The BD Ladder team can assist.