What to Include in a Winning Proposal
Getting lucky in business involves winning clients. One way to do this is by responding to request for proposals (RFP). Recently, I found an RFP from a local government agency for work that a company run by a friend of mine could do. I sent him the solicitation and encouraged him to respond. He was uneasy. Although his company could do the work, he presumed he would not win the bid because he did not have any “past performance” history working on government projects.
This was not a very large project. He had done similar work for non-profits and companies. Getting a contract from a government agency could open a whole new channel of business for him. He initially declined the opportunity because of the fear that it would be a waste of time.
I encouraged him to rethink his decision. We talked about ways he could set himself apart from his competition who might have past performance history with government projects.
Here is what he did. He leveraged his past performance with non-profits and commercial entities and wrote his proposal in a way that showcases what he did for each point or feature that was requested in the RFP. He expressed his confidence in being able to deliver a result that allows the government agency to achieve their goals. It is all about making them – the client – look good.
In his response there was no hint at a lack of prior work with government entities. The goal was to make that point irrelevant and to make the relevant point be his experience and track record. He highlighted examples of how they helped other organizations who sought similar results.
To illustrate his point further, he submitted his proposal in color with vibrant images showing examples of his work in a visually attractive layout. He included several testimonials from happy clients and provided references to written material his company produced to educate clients (quick note: people look at published documents as evidence of expertise).
See also Sample Proposal Format
The change in attitude empowered him to write such a model proposal that he intends to use portions of it to respond to future RFPs.