This time, I’ll discuss some of the quotes from Part 8 of my book, which are directly from buyers and provide you with great guidance for your next proposal.

In this podcast, we’ll focus on the first group of quotes under the heading “Differentiate Yourself”

This is one of the most important things to get right. RFPs exist so clients can decide between various bidders and make a final selection. If you haven’t given the client what they need to differentiate you from others, you haven’t written a winning proposal.Here are some quotes and my take on them:

“Many of the good responses were from firms that quoted what was requested, but also highlighted additional benefits that differentiated them. The responses also provided alternatives, which were sometimes a better alternative for our needs.”

Since the client is coming to you for a solution through their RFP process, take the opportunity, whenever possible to give them alternatives or options if you think they’re in the best interest of the clients. Even if they don’t accept them, they can provide some good will and demonstrate that you are a solutions provider, not just a contractor.

“The bidder’s worst crime is failing to answer the key question, and instead regurgitating their key selling point.”

This buyer is lamenting the fluff and sales propaganda that many companies write in their proposals. Having reviewed many bids myself for clients, I know this isn’t how you win bids. Check out previous podcasts about fluff and answering the damned question for more info.

“Many features are discussed and identified by bidders, but there’s usually no corresponding, clearly identified benefit.”

It’s a common problem. Proposal writers sometimes have a hard time differentiating between a feature and benefit. I reviewed an RFP that failed to win business for a supplier recently and this was one of their problems. They didn’t link their features to the benefits that matter to the client. It’s a fundamental sales technique, but many proposal writers don’t see themselves in a sales role – to their detriment. They need to learn these basic sales techniques to write better proposals.

“There’s no consistent theme of ‘why us’ – lots of features and claims, but there isn’t anything that demonstrates their value.”

This is very similar to the last quote, but I wanted to focus on the question ‘why us’ . By asking yourself this question while you write your proposal, it will help you think of ways to differentiate yourself.

“What’s impressive is good format, solid answers and something a little out of the ordinary, such as insight into the industry that we haven’t seen from the other bidders. In other words, provide more than is expected.”

The two key elements here are “insight” and “more than expected”. So many proposals I see make the claim that the bidder or their processes/technology are ‘best in class’ or that they are the ‘leaders’ in the industry but they don’t’ provide any insight that demonstrates this claim. To give more than expected, it’s as simple as trying to understand why the asked the question and thinking about what else they didn’t ask that you can answer and provide to pleasantly surprise them.

“We like bidders to be responsive to the questions, and do a little research on us, and then impress us with their insight.”

This is similar to the last quote, but the difference is the request for you to do some research. It’s easy to do online, so if you skip that step, you aren’t learning what you need to know to differentiate yourself. Research the company, their competition, the individuals involved in the procurement and the individuals who will be managing the service afterward and are likely on the evaluation team. By including details and insight from what you learn, it’ll  resonate with the evaluators and as the quote says, “impress them with insight”

That’s it for now. This is just some of the advice in my book that’s directly from people who may be evaluating your bids. I’ll cover more of them in a future podcast but in the mean time, you can get the book to read all the quotes and get advice and strategies to help you give the evaluators what they want.

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