Make Your Proposals Short, Sweet, and On Point

Government employees who have evaluated vendor proposals while with the government attend our federal sales seminars. The consistent things they say are:

*Assume that proposal evaluators are smart people who asked for exactly what they want in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

*Meet each and every RFP requirement without fail.

*Don't provide information that is not requested in the RFP.

*Do not propose solutions that exceed the requirements in the RFP.

*Present your proposed solution simply and directly with facts not fancy words.

A couple of examples will help illustrate these points.

Pitfall 1:

Your boss once wrote an eloquent Quality Assurance Plan that was requested in an RFP. She/he now wants to put it in every proposal because of its pure beauty and impressiveness.

Big mistake: include it in responses to RFPs that ask for a Quality Assurance Plan. Even then it may be bigger and more eloquent than the customer wants.

You have to tailor it to fit the requirements in the RFP. Including it just to impress evaluators not only doesn't impress them but will probably lose you points. The likely evaluator response to verbose ? "Why is this in here, I didn't request it. I don't want to read it and it is keeping me from reading your proposed solution."

Pitfall 2:

Your Vice President of Sales is always penciling in "world class" as an adjective describing your company. Evaluators respond negatively when they read superlatives like this. The typical reaction will be: "What does world class mean? If you're going to use words like that, prove it. World class organizations don't call themselves world class so these guys must be south of world class; probably way south."

Pitfall 3:

Your chief technical guy says: "I can't believe the stupidity of these government types, what they want is so old hat. What they really need is my state-of-the-art solution." When you hear this, find someone else to develop the proposed solution.

To win, keep your proposal short, sweet, and to the point. You will gain points with evaluators by cutting down on their work and giving them precisely what they requested.


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