We have been involved in the government-side of the industry and have also worked on the vendor-side, having written hundreds of RFP solicitations and successful commercial proposals.

The document(s) that make up Request for Proposals outline all aspects of a project going out for bid.

We would love to work with you to make your proposal a success.  But if you want to do it on your own, please learn from the mistakes we have seen.

Do NOT assume you know the requirements or needs of the client better than the client.

When you carefully examine the RFP and understand what the agency is asking for, don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “What they really need is…” or “It would make more sense for them to…” and build your proposal on those assumptions. Develop your proposal to deliver exactly what the contracting agency wants.

Remember, there may be a good reason the requirements are what they are, and your company may not be privy to them. You can use the Q&A process to find out if the client is open to alternatives and submit those along with your proposal that clearly shows the client your company is the best one for the job. These alternatives can be discussed during the negotiation phase AFTER your company has been selected.

Meet ALL of the RFP requirements and do not just pay “lip service” to them.

Proposing on contracts is usually an all-or-nothing deal.  Either you meet all minimum requirements outlined in the RFP and have the ability perform all of the services requested, or you don’t, and your proposal is rejected. To develop a successful proposal, you must address every requirement and pay attention to each detail that is being solicited. In your proposal, you have to clearly tell the customer exactly how you will perform to meet their requirements. You must have a solid plan ready to implement to meet those requirements should you get awarded the contract.

We have seen otherwise qualified and successful companies lose their bid and even have their contract withdrawn due to mistakes they have made throughout the post-selection process.  It is terrible to have a winning proposal and then lose the contract after you have been awarded it!

Do NOT fall behind your timeline.

Effective proposal management entails having a clear strategy and firm timeline for developing your proposal and sticking to it. Falling behind your timeline means that something will likely have to be cut out of your strategy in order to submit the proposal in a timely manner.

Do NOT take shortcuts in the proposal development process.

Writing proposals takes a lot more work than just excellent writing skills. Experts in the contract’s subject matter and relevant administrators need time to deal with each project’s feasibility, logistics and budget. Writers need time to draft a working proposal. The graphic artists must create and refine the illustrations to be included in your proposal. Everyone needs time to review the ideas, budget and presentation at multiple points along the way to a final submission. Cutting corners compromises the competitiveness of the proposal. Diligently moving through each step of proposal development increases your likelihood of success!

Do NOT disregard the feedback from the Proposal Readiness Review Team.

The purpose of a proposal readiness review is to find weaknesses in your proposal and ways to increase the proposal’s competitiveness. Ignoring feedback from these reviews leaves your proposal vulnerable. It is a proposal manager’s prerogative to ignore review team inputs, but he/she does so at his/her own peril. Make your proposal as competitive as it can be by integrating your reviewers’ feedback into subsequent proposal drafts.

Do NOT submit proposals late.

If you submit even one minute late, your proposal WILL NOT be accepted. Submitting a proposal after the deadline means that it won’t be seen, and weeks and months of hard work will have gone to waste. The only chance you have in this situation is if all the bids are not qualified and the RFP is started anew.  This is a highly unlikely scenario!