Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Perfect proposals

The key to successful proposal writing

Companies who supply FM services cannot survive without winning new business through writing proposals and completing tender exercises.  So often I see poorly articulated proposals.  What’s that you say? You run out of time? Not enough resources?

Buyers use the proposal to find out who the best is out there.  Less than ‘first class’ proposals can mean reputational damage, being taken off vendor lists or poor business motivation, let alone not winning the work you have spent time, effort and money trying to win.

Here are my 5 tips for ensuring your proposals leaves the client asking… when can you start?

1.       Pick the right battles

Why chase tenders that you are not going to win? Good qualification is key to ensuring you get off to a good start.  Only chase opportunities that are real, you can deliver and you want to win.

2.       Know your customer

Being prepared for a tender is essential.  The key to this is to establish relationships with the customer so you can understand what they really really want and they have a good idea of your capabilities and competitive advantages

When buyers receive proposals they don’t like those that don’t address their specific needs – who wants to read stuff their not interested in? No one – so write about stuff your customer will be interested in – how your going to address their needs.

3.       Build your solution to get to the winning price

A lot of people say that it always comes down to price and the proposal is secondary.  I don’t believe this is the case.  The key is to build a solution that drives the right price – for both you and the customer.

4.       ATFQ (Answer The Full Question)

Answers need to answer the full question. It has to be customised and specific to the needs of the customer. Make sure it is easy to understand and has a simple clear layout.  Evidence and examples of where you have done it before are a must and build credibility.  Avoid waffle, incomplete answers, generic standard offers, and talking about yourself.  If every paragraph/sentence starts with your company name, we, us or our – you are talking about yourself not the customer.

5.       Present your proposal in a fitting way

So you spend hundreds of thousands preparing a tender which is worth millions to you.  You have to win the job.  So why do you print it on poor quality paper, bind it in a plastic comb or in an off the shelf lever arch file? Your printed bid is your shop window, give it justice and dress it the best it can be.

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