I love the variety of the work I do! I support proposal efforts for companies big and small, whether it is working on a global team on an oil and gas proposal; developing content for a mid-size consulting firm for a tender to a foreign government; managing a proposal to a global telecommunication firm for a payment processing firm; helping a Spanish company win a big transportation project in the United States, or writing a winning Statement of Qualifications to the City of Fort Worth for a small engineering firm. I also have fun preparing sales quotes and proposals for my own firm.
No matter whether it is a price quote, a sales letter, a 10-page proposal, or a multi-volume tender for an international project, they all have to answer the same question – how do we convince the client they want our product or service?
Every effective pursuit, no matter whether it is a price quote, a sales proposal or a formal proposal or tender, goes through five basic steps:
- Strategy – Do we want to bid on this, what is the client really looking for and can we deliver?
- Plan – What information or resources do we need to deliver? How do we convince the customer we are the company they want? How to we structure our price to win and still make money?
- Develop – Prepare response, pricing and other required information
- Review – Make sure the response is compliant, estimate is accurate, and the response represents the quality of your company
- Produce – Prepare and deliver to client
Depending on the complexity of the pursuit, variations of each step is added. For example, you may add additional develop and review steps. Or, if you have subcontractors, you could add a team strategy step.
Developing good processes that guide your staff through each of these steps delivers huge results in a company’s bottom line. Alan Weiss wrote in Million Dollar Consulting Proposals [i]that following an effective approach for consulting proposals can result in an 89% or better success rate. This matches my experience. For example, one of my customers increased their success rates on their quotes from 30% to 50% after implementing effective processes. At the same time, they increased their success rate to 100% on formal proposals. They realized that a bid or quote was just another name for proposal. By applying proposal best practices to all their pursuits, no matter the type; they achieved dramatic results!
[i] Weiss, Alan, Million Dollar Consulting Proposals, John Wiley & Sons. Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey 2012