Given the slow RFP releases we are now seeing, it behooves us all to be as efficient as possible in preparing our proposals. Following below, I offer seven proposal success strategies that will help us develop more winners.

  1. Get to know the Customer

Never prepare a proposal without developing sufficient customer intimacy.  We can probably never have the ideal amount of customer rapport.  But at minimum, we can find out what solution he favors and how much he is willing to spend.  It would be nice to befriend some source selection committee members.  And we might want to develop some White Papers to influence cognizant personnel.

  1. Use Price-to-Win (PTW) Techniques

On a recent proposal, the customer declined to do the PTW study we recommended.  And lost on price.  Anyone who pursues Federal contracts can’t fail to see the importance of price. This means it’s necessary for bidders to learn how to better use PTW.

Our experience suggests that most bidders are not very good at PTW. Large businesses use it at least on the important proposals. Mid-size businesses like to use it every now and then. And small businesses rarely use it.

The suggestion to use PTW is easier said than done due to the cost.

However, bidders who expect to win need to find a way to successfully employ PTW. This may include a robust PTW study on the important programs.  And bidders can at least use a quasi PTW approach.  Such as a conference including players who have at least some impressionistic insights into competitor pricing.

  1. Improve your Task Order Proposal Capabilities

We have seen that many companies still don’t have an efficient capability for responding to the task order (TO) solicitations that are so prevalent now.  At a minimum, companies need a repeatable process for rapid staffing, planning, solutioning, writing, and pricing the response.

  1. Start Earlier

The personnel at many companies are pulled in so many directions that they have trouble starting in a timely manner.  One of the easiest proposal success strategies is to have the strength of character to start early. For every company that starts early, probably 10 don’t. One of the worst cases is the company that has a policy of not starting until after the final RFP is released.  Of course, this approach is cheaper.  But at the risk that they will not be able to provide the organized and considered effort that leads to a win.

  1. Use a Good Proposal Preparation Process

Many small businesses essentially don’t have a proposal process. And many large businesses have a process that is no longer aligned with their organization.  It goes without saying that, a critical proposal success strategy is the ability to develop winning proposals cost-effectively, which hinges on implementing a well-structured process.  It doesn’t need to be an over-engineered process with a thousand steps.  Just a process that is appropriate to the needs of the company.  Not too much and not too little.

  1. Get Executive Buy-In

Many proposal teams encounter problems in the process where they need added budget or executive decisions.  The only good way to handle this is to get advance buy-in from the executive with authority.  That way they can get a quick solution to the problem and avoid a possibly catastrophic waste of time.

  1. Use the Right Amount of Consultant Help

The last proposal success strategy is, of course, consultant help. It can make a critical difference.  To provide SME input or replace a key person who is unavailable.  Due to the cost, having wisdom and judgment is critical here.

Nearly every company needs to work out a plan to utilize the amount of consultant help that maximizes revenue.  This might be once a year for a small business.  And some large divisions invest millions.   Making a good selection ends with a vendor that has the desired talent, a compatible corporate personality, and an acceptable price.  Thirty-five years of experience has shown us that:  Those companies that use consultant talent tend to grow faster than those that do not.

A proposal sage once said, “Save in other areas.”