Contracting Officer Gives Tips on Winning Proposals

  |  November 28, 2018

Anthony Maggert — a former Contracting Officer (CO)

Evaluating thousands of federal proposals I’ve seen a lot of bad. As a Contracting Officer (CO), my job was to weed out the bad and embrace the good. What does bad look like? Easy. Remember your 8th grade English class? Bad grammar, misspelling, punctuation, miss alignment — everything your 8th grade teacher said made your paper less than an “A”.

So, what is good? Readability, flow, following the directions on what the solicitation is asking for. All the things that make your paper an “A”. In proposal writing, if you’re getting “Bs” or worse, you’re loosing contracts. But winning is easy. It all comes down to following the directions in the request for proposal (RFP). This seems obvious but most organizations fail. Why? Because they add information that is distracting and irrelevant to the Contracting Officer. Don’t provide more than is asked for in an RFP.

You’re telling the Contracting Officer what time it is, not building them a clock. So get to the point!

If the RFP asks for resumes, don’t send pictures of yourself and staff as part of your resume. Because pictures are fillers and do nothing for the evaluation of your proposal. That’s why there are page limits, so you don’t rewrite War and Peace. There are thousands of examples of what not to do. But for now focus on how to ensure your document is ready to be the shining example of the perfect proposal. If you are bidding on an RFP, your proposal should be “air tight”. (Air tight is the subject of a future article.)

Read, edit, reread, and make sure your proposal is ready to win! Clean, readable proposals get the second look. And air tight proposals win.