Responding to Requests for Proposals (RFP), Requests for Quotes (RFQ) or Tender applications is a very lengthy and complicated process. It is extremely competitive and there is no sight of who your competitors are. The application process is a huge commitment of time and resources and it can often feel like a complete gamble. You put all your chickens in one basket by submitting an application that you hope the client will notice, like and choose. You feel exposed because ordinarily, you would collaborate with the client to create a joint solution that suits them and their needs. But now you’re having to create a proposal, mostly in isolation, without input from the client. How do you make sure you’ve given it your best shot and will be most likely to be successful?
Co-design the call-out
Let’s start with an example and say that you run a Brisbane SEO agency, that has been asked to pitch on an optimisation project. The best way to being awarded a tender or project is to be involved in the designing and creation of the tender document or call-out. If you’re close enough to the client to support them in this capacity, you’ll firstly be more likely to be considered; secondly, you’ll know exactly what they want or need and thirdly you can respond with a proposal that is on point with their ask.
Check the required supporting documents
Often the first point of screening and weeding out the unwanted applications is in the first submission receipt. An easy way to reduce the number of applicants is to kick out those who don’t have all the documents and signatures required. So, be very vigilant of what is asked for and diligent about making sure you’ve provided this. But, it is not enough to just submit the documents. Label them nicely to make it easy for the people receiving the file to find and know which documents are which.
Stick to the brief
While you may have some grand ideas and suggestions on how a problem can be solved, don’t go off topic. Sometimes even the best ideas get rejected only because they don’t fit into the ‘boxes’ that the client wants. If it’s too different, it won’t make sense to them. New and innovative ideas need to be coached and massaged into strategy and thinking and this takes time. Rather land the deal and when you have a good relationship with the client, engage gently with them to shift their thinking towards your ideas.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. This shows interest and enthusiasm for understanding the client and being keen to respond with something that truly works for them and is a good fit. The answers to the questions will be evident in your application and the client will feel like you’ve hit the nail on the head with what they are asking for.
Submitting on time is the first test. Be sure not to fail it. Clients want to work with service providers who can stick to the brief and can work to a deadline.