Lesson 15: The Proposal Grilled Cheese
Part 2: Responsiveness

If compliance isn’t enough to generate a winning proposal by itself, how do we take our proposal to the next level? Pairing compliance with responsiveness creates a killer combination that will make your submission a true winner.

What is Responsiveness?

While compliance addresses the client’s explicitly stated needs, “responsiveness goes beyond compliance. Responsive proposals address customer goals, underlying concerns, and key customer issues and values that might not be spelled out in the solicitation. Responsive proposals help customers achieve their business goals, not just their projects or procurement goals.” (APMP BOK)

Responsiveness requires a certain level of customer intelligence to address these unspoken wants and needs.

Back to the Cutting Board

In part 1 we established that the Request for Grilled Cheese (RFGC) requirements include a sandwich structure with cheese and a method of grilling. Beyond those barebones requirements is a world of flavorful possibility.

The compliance-only champion, Client 3, made a basic all-American grilled cheese sandwich. Wonder Bread smeared with Hellman’s mayonnaise, topped with long-lasting Kraft American Singles and grilled to golden brown, melty perfection. A low-cost, easy-to-produce, familiar staple of American cuisine.

A responsive grilled cheese maker will go beyond meeting the explicit requirements to understand the consumer’s flavor, texture, and cooking preferences and cater to these unspoken needs.

Compliance + Responsiveness = Delicious

Let’s look at two more potential clients and see how their grilled cheeses stack up against Client 3.

  • Client 4 delivers a grilled cheese made with white cheddar and seasonal cherry jam on a well-buttered sourdough. The sandwich is grilled until golden and crispy and served with confidence.

Unfortunately, Client 4 has not invested enough time in their customer intelligence to discover that we strongly dislike sweet and salty combinations.

Client 5 has invested in customer intelligence and has taken the time to learn about our preferences and what we may be looking for in a grilled cheese. They know we would prefer to keep costs low by avoiding expensive and unnecessary additions but desire high-quality base ingredients sourced from local small businesses when possible.

  • Client 5 delivers a grilled cheese sandwich made with grilled rustic Italian bread, slices of ripe garden tomatoes seasoned with cracked black pepper and topped with gooey cheddar and havarti cheeses. The sandwich is simple and unfussy but made with local ingredients to lower costs and stimulate the local economy.

Part 1’s compliance winner, Client 3, was still in the running but is quickly knocked out by the overall yum-factor of Client 5’s creation. Sure, Client 3 had the lowest costs overall, but Client 5 took the time to get to know our preferences and take our wants into consideration.

Key Takeaways

To be successful, you must be able to strictly adhere to the RFP requirements while differentiating your solution from the competition. By taking the time to understanding your customer’s implicit wants and needs, you can develop a robust solution with a higher chance of winning.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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