Writing a response to a request for proposal (RFP) that wins business is no mean feat. RFPs are critically important to many businesses: the contracts won through RFP responses provide many industries with about a third of their revenue.
Proposals can also be difficult to put together. Proposal teams need to gather information from multiple stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) to create an attractive, detailed document that will stand out from other proposals your potential client is considering. You also have to meet deadlines while digging up research or hunting down SMEs for content to include in your bid. This can be a challenge, especially for small proposal teams, or proposal managers who have other duties in an organization.
Below are some tips that will help your team — no matter what size it is — write better, more eye-catching proposals.
Tips for writing a strong proposal
- Understand the customer: While, yes, the goal of the RFP response is to sell your product or service, the bid itself is all about the customer. Your job is to know the customer’s needs and pain points, and to write a story in which your product solves those problems. Your proposal should highlight the ways in which the customer’s life or job becomes easier if they choose your bid. Make sure you’ve really read through the RFP, and truly understand the customer’s challenges before you start gathering information.
- Take your time: You might think that getting a proposal out quickly is the key to winning more business, but that’s not the case. While yes, you should always make your deadlines, research shows that the key to winning a deal is a well-written proposal, not one that arrives early. Top performing RFP responses take more than 24 hours to write, so slow down, take your time, and make sure you are producing the best document you can.
- Have a dedicated bid team: If the last tip seems impossible to you, you may not have a dedicated proposal team, or even one person who owns the bid process. When sales reps own the bid process, that can be a problem because they necessarily don’t have 24 hours to spend writing a proposal. If that’s the case, it’s time to get a dedicated proposal team, or at least one person who can handle responses without slowing down other sales activities.
- Map your process: Do you understand your RFP response process? If not, it’s time to map out your workflow. This will help you understand where the bid writing process is slowing down and where it’s moving too quickly. It will also help you find the places where you can automate the workflow so that you can work more efficiently.
- Get your content in one place: It’s almost deadline. Do you know where your content is? If you need to start chasing subject matter experts the moment an RFP response is assigned in order to make a deadline, or your team spends all their time searching for content in old proposals,emails, and documents, you need to get your content in a central location. A searchable database of all your old content helps pull everything together so information is easy to find.
- Respond to more RFPs every year: We know, we know. How can you respond to more RFPs every year when we just told you to slow down your writing process? The fact of the matter is that bids are a numbers game. Companies with well written proposals and more bids tend to win more business. The trick here is to work smarter, not harder, by using tools that free your team up to spend more time writing a strong proposal for each prospective client.
- Use RFP automation software: RFP automation is a form of sales enablement designed to simplify the response process. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, RFP automation software can use your sales content to create a first draft of a proposal. Your team can then use that draft to write a detailed bid that focuses on your clients’ needs.
RFP automation takes the pressure off your team
Proposal professionals know their work provides much of their company’s revenue, and they feel that pressure. RFP automation software gives proposal managers and writers some breathing room by storing content and helping draft a bid. Learn more about Ombud’s RFP automation software and machine learning technology by requesting a demo here.