This is part 4 of the 12 step process you should use to develop a winning bid. In this part, I’m continuing the series with steps 6 and 7 which are your Service Solution and your Management Solution. Yes, they are different.

Step 6 – Service solution

Your service solution outlines how you’re going to deliver the product or service, as well as the type and specifications of the product or the organizational structure and processes for the service. Knowing what the solution is at the beginning of the proposal process makes it easier to develop the written proposal response. Without it, your written response won’t be as effective, or you will need to re-write some of it after you’ve finalized your solution.

The solution must effectively match the strategy, client needs and the compelling examples and explanation you will provide to demonstrate why your solution is the best.

Sometimes your solution will be developed in parallel with the writing. While this is far from ideal, if you have to do it this way, carefully manage the process so the right information is available for the written response when it is needed.

So how do I know this? I learned the hard way. We were writing a proposal response for a service without knowing the final organizational structure or how the services would be delivered. Generic processes and information with placeholders were included in the proposal at first, which meant a re-write was necessary just before submission to align the writing with the final solution. This wasted effort, used up time we should have spent fine-tuning the response, and left room for errors.

To make an effective and compelling written proposal, you need to describe how the service will be delivered and why it matters to the client. This must be done at the beginning of the process to take full advantage of an effective proposal writing process.

While most RFPs require you to respond to requirements based on specific service levels and performance or technical specifications, some proposals will ask for service options and suggestions for efficiency and lower cost. This is your opportunity to provide alternatives that may be more attractive to the client, and make you more competitive.

If the client has not asked, and unless they specifically prohibit it, you should propose alternate service options that may be attractive to the client. There may be services they haven’t considered, or a different way of providing the results they want. Do this in addition to the clients stated services and scope, with any related costing clearly identified as optional.

This can include a proposal for the basic requirements the client has asked for, as well as either an increase in scope, or absorbing other contracted services, for instance, which may enable you to provide more scope for less cost than the client spends on multiple providers. It may also be beneficial to propose a reduced scope that still meets the client’s basic requirements, particularly if you know cost is an issue. Sometimes the requirements the client documents don’t reflect real conditions. The more you know about the client’s business, the better you’ll be able to propose alternative service solutions.

Step 7 –  Management solution

So, in addition to the service solution, you should provide a compelling management solution that goes beyond the technical approach to your service and meets or exceeds the client’s requirements.

Whether they formally ask for it or not, make your management solution clear by Specifically address the customer/supplier relationship and how you will manage the service or product delivery over the life of the contract, including quality assurance, auditing, reporting, and client interfaces.

More extensive RFPs include questions that cover this are. If they do, put as much effort into answering them as you do for the service solution or pricing. The reason the client issued an RFP is to get the best solution, not just a price. How you manage the service is important to the overall solution.

Consider your technical solution and pricing approach in addition to your understanding of the client when developing the interfaces, management and reporting approaches and service management tools that will be part of your proposal. These must be of interest to the client and attract them to your overall solution.

For a service, particularly when it’s a key support to the client’s core business and success, the relationship, accessibility, culture, reporting, quality management and supplier relationship management approaches should be developed and proposed in a way that enhances your offering and provides benefits to the client.

I’ve just covered Step 6 and 7 of the 12 step process. In my next podcast, I’ll deal with Step 8 – using Style Sheets for consistent writing.

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