Welcome to another episode of the podcast “Write Winning Proposals”. In this podcast, I’m revisiting the idea of asking yourself questions to prepare for writing your proposal response.

In episode #5, I also talked about asking questions, but the focus was on a series of probing questions specific to the questions they expect you to respond to and using a drill-down technique to ask questions about each subsequent answer.

There are, however, a few other questions you should also ask yourself about the client and the proposal as part of your strategy process before you start writing.Asking these questions is always an easy way to gather information since the questions force you to examine issues and information.

The answers will guide you in your strategy and most importantly, the details and information you include in the proposal response. It’s the details and information that differentiate you from your competition.

So here is a set of questions you should always ask yourself before writing the proposal response. Of course, depending on your situation, the client and the RFP structure, there will be other specific questions you need to ask yourself and you may need to modify some of these to reflect your situation.

1. Why are they issuing an RFP now?

It may seem obvious, but sometimes there are details and nuances that you need to know about to effectively answer the questions and position your organization. This question is a starting point.

2. Who will be reviewing?

Evaluators are human. Understanding who they are, what their stake is in the procurement exercise, what they care about, their background and interests will allow you to target your response so it is meaningful and interesting to them.

3. What is the selection process?

Knowing and understanding the full selection process, including the evaluation matrix and scoring will help you focus your attention where it matters and with the insight, you may be able to position your response, as well as your pricing, for maximum impact.

4. What do they need?

It isn’t always obvious from the RFP documentation what they are looking for. They may not have said something for political or competitive reasons, they may not be clear on the scope or understand what the bidders can actually offer. This is an opportunity to clearly target their needs, whether they are stated or not.

5. Who is doing it now?

If you aren’t the incumbent, you need to know everything there is about the company providing the service. What are their strengths, weaknesses, benefits, relationships, coverage, technology, systems, resources and more. Armed with that information, you can go head to head with them.

6. Do they want change?

Sometimes companies are required to re-bid a service because they don’t have any renewal options left. If this is the case, they may not really want a change and you are fighting an uphill battle to take the business away from the incumbent. Knowing this will influence your effort and your strategy.

7. How are they organized?

If you know how they are organized, particularly around the services you would deliver, what processes and systems do they use, what are their titles, how are decisions made, etc., you can describe your solution and approach to match with their own internal expectations.

8. Who will manage the contract?

Knowing who exactly will manage the contract, and usually have influence over the decision, allows you to research them to pinpoint their interests and background so you can hit their hot buttons, interests and experiences to get their attention and make the connection.

9. Who are their clients / customers?

Your customer always has their own customers or clients they need to satisfy, whether it’s internal or external. By understanding more about their business, who their customers and clients are, how they serve them and what the critical issues are, you can design and describe your services to match and deal with key details that you know impact their own ability to deliver to their customers.

10. What is their core business?

It seems obvious, but by understanding your potential client’s core business better, you can pinpoint what it is about your service that supports their success, what risks to mitigate and the real benefits you can provide them so they can be more competitive. Linking your benefits to their success is a sure way to get their attention and interest in what you are offering.

Finally,

Use the technique I talked about in Podcast # 5 to dig deeper until you have the answers you need. For instance, after answering Question #2, “Who will be reviewing?” you should ask “What are their interests?” Then after you identify their interests, ask “How can we address their interests?”

Of course, the final question you need to ask yourself is: “How can I incorporate that into the written response?” and suddenly you have your proposal. Easy, isn’t it?

And on the topic of questions, If you have questions or comments about these podcasts, you can contact us directly or post a comment below.


Our Book "Win More Business - Write Better Proposals". is now available at Amazon in many countries, including the USA , Canada, UK, Japan, Germany and France. You can also order it directly from the author on this website

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