Is your small business hunting for new revenue streams? Companies that sell big ticket items or services often engage in competitive bidding to secure sales, frequently through a request for proposal (RFP) process.
According to Investopedia, “A request for proposal (RFP) is a business document that announces a project, describes it, and solicits bids from qualified contractors to complete it. Most organizations prefer to launch their projects using RFPs, and many governments always use them.”
Keep in mind that your business may have to compete against larger companies with more experience or resources, so your proposal must highlight what sets you apart from the rest.
Here are several proven ways to improve your chances of winning a bid or contract opportunity:
Assign a process owner.
“Research reveals that 52% of small businesses do not have a dedicated owner for their RFP processes—which can be a significant roadblock to completing RFPs.
Organizations without a designated owner are 30% more likely to complete less than 10 RFPs per year. In comparison, organizations with a dedicated proposal manager or team respond to 174 RFPs per year on average—the highest of any other ownership style. Plus, teams with a dedicated RFP individual or team are 8% more likely to be ‘Very Satisfied’ with the quality of their submission. They’re also 5% more likely to complete more RFPs than those without a dedicated team or individual.
Although small companies are less likely to employ a full-time proposal manager, steering away from ad-hoc ownership, and identifying an RFP lead individual or team will help improve win rates.”
Back up claims with data.
“While you’re certainly marketing your business, this isn’t a great time for puffery or taglines. Know your strengths and provide supporting evidence. That might come in the form of team biographies highlighting relevant experience, supplier diversity certifications, or case studies that show success in past jobs.”
Source: Dun & Bradstreet
Sell your 1% differentiation.
“I wrote an article about how you only need to be 1% better than your competitors to win a customer’s business. If you’re working with a prospect that is qualified in every respect, except for the fact that they are going to procure a product like yours through an RFP, then you need to identify what your 1% differentiation is (this could be the one thing that you do that no one else does, or the one thing you do better than every other bidder. ) and convince the customer that they can’t live without it.
This requires significant pre-work with the prospect prior to the RFP being released. You need to conduct an extremely thorough discovery phase. You need to get in front of the right decision-makers and influencers to develop a very clear understanding of their business objectives. And, you need to quantify, and get their buy-in, on the incremental value that your 1% differentiation would supply.”
Source: Andy Paul
Know how your proposal fits into your sales process.
“If you haven’t established a repeatable, tested sales process yet, now’s the time to do it.
Creating custom proposals from scratch might’ve worked when you were a burgeoning organization, but as you grow, an established process will prevent waste and burnout.
Plan your packages and pricing, know what you will and won’t do (your niche), and create a template for your proposal that includes different pre-written copy blocks that perfectly communicate your brand messaging.”
Ensure you meet the RFP requirements.
“When preparing your proposal, you need to make sure that you meet the requirements not only for this specific contract but also the general requirements to bid on government contracts.
To meet the government’s requirements for contractors, follow the SBA’s guidelines available online. These include:
- Make sure your business meets the SBA’s employee size requirements
- Register your business with SAM.gov and obtain a 12-character Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)
- Match the products and services you offer to the appropriate North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code
- Ensure your business complies with all applicable laws and regulations
It’s also essential that your proposal meets the requirements of a specific RFP. Refer to Section C in the RFP to ensure that you address every requirement for this particular contract.”
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