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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Common RFP Response Mistakes

While trying to cover all the points of the offered solution, we often tend to miss certain points & make certain avoidable mistakes, these common errors tend to be one of the issues which can lead to the prospective client not considering our drafted response. or miss some crucial aspect of the solution that we wish to highlight the most. In a nutshell I will list down some of the common mistakes that we tend to make:

 1.The response is all about "our product" : The biggest mistake that we tend to make is that we often emphasize on showcasing our products, and usually overlook the obstacles that the potential client is facing. We try to create executive summaries which summarizes the selling company’s capabilities. An Effective executive summary is always about the prospect– not you. So focus on how you’re going to solve their problem, and burn down their obstacles, while trying to highlight how much money they are going to save,thus showing them new ways for them to be innovative in their industries.

2. Keep out the space wasting platitudes : Remember Decision makers generally only pay attention to the first two paragraphs. This means that the critical information should be in those paragraphs, and platitudes like “Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with our proposal in response to your RFP to support ABC Company’s business needs .................Blah Blah Blah” should be kept to the minimum.

3. We are selling & not educating the client : The usual approach that most companies follow is to try to keep the executive summary as something that we can use to educate the client about our product. The executive summary is not an education document or a relationship development tool; it is actually a tool to allow us to close the deal. -  “Here’s the problem. Here’s the business value only we can provide.”

4. Information overload : One of the major mistakes is about including too much information / Verbal runoff that is irrelevant to the prospect as a vendor usually cites too much of information.Remember that a good executive summary should focus only on that information that is relevant to this particular prospect.

5. Treat the Proposal Summary as a Business Case : Despite is name an executive summary is not a summary of the proposal, but a succinct demonstration of the understanding of the prospect’s needs and the bottom line outcomes you can deliver against those needs.

 6. Avoid Generalities : Usually general remarks and capabilities information tend to be quite boring to the reader and make you sound savor less. Answer right off, “What’s in it for the prospect company?” and avoid generalities. The prospective client only cares about the specific value you’re bringing to his or her organization and not general trends, and certainly not about the exhaustive list of your company’s capabilities.

7. Bland writing inadvertently conveys lack of real interest : Remember that effective communication of the actual message is all that matters. To be viewed as a trusted, innovative, potential partner passionate about helping the prospect succeed, adopt a tone and style that is direct; focused on the most relevant information to the prospect; uses more active verbs, shorter sentences fewer adjectives, more bullets, more descriptive subheads, and a more liberal use of the first person – I, we, us.

8. Too many pages : Every Bid manager falls into the trap of thinking that a summary needs to be at least two to three pages to really convey our value. Limiting an executive summary to one-page — two at the max — forces you to convey the matter in a succinct way. As Being succinct makes you think and boil it down to what matters.

9. Give them an option to find out more : Use hyperlinks in the executive summary, linking content and recommendations to descriptions in the detailed RFP document. Too often we make it hard for people to jump to what interests them. If people are interested in one of your ideas, make it easy for them to read more about that interest.

If you want some perspective on how you or  your company needs to enhance their Sales/Client Management Capabilities, please email me at shubhanjan.saha@gmail.com
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