Proposal Myths and Where They Go Wrong 

Proposal myths are rampant in the industry. From misunderstanding compliance to overestimating pricing, let’s set the record straight.

Myth #1: The RFP Is a Set of Guidelines.

Too often, professionals make the fatal mistake of assuming the RFP is merely a set of guidelines. Unfortunately, this leads to non-compliance. With a non-compliant proposal, you are sure to fall out of favor quickly. 

It is always best practice to follow the RFP strictly. For example, if the RFP specifies formatting parameters, page limits, or required sections, don’t deviate. 

Adhering to the RFP requirements demonstrates respect and competence. Consequently, you show the reviewers that you respect their time and prove to the client that you respect their vision. Compliance also displays competence. If you deliver a compliant proposal, you indicate that you can follow instructions. Furthermore, this signals that, if chosen, your company will fully deliver the assigned Statement of Work (SOW). 

Myth #2: The Lowest Price Always Wins.

This is a myth that we see repeatedly. You do not need to have the lowest price to win business. 

The most crucial factor for a successful (and winning) proposal is a tight combination of compliance and responsiveness. Recognize and agree to the client’s stated wants and needs through compliance. Then, address their unstated needs and show them what they’re missing. 

Remember, it’s okay not to have the lowest price—pair fair market values with something the customer wants. As a result, you’ll have a knockout proposal. Customer intelligence, differentiators, and discriminators come in handy here. Let’s say that customer intelligence reveals that the client is interested in partnering with certified small businesses. Though the client didn’t explicitly state this, it gives certified small businesses a leg up. 

Whether this is a particular certification, location, or skillset, your client will be eager to partner with the company they feel they’re getting the most bang for their buck. 

Myth #3: The More I Bid, The More I’ll Win.

It’s a numbers game, right? 

Well, not really. If your team responds to every available opportunity but boasts a less-than-ideal win rate, it’s time to take a step back. 

Does your company have a solid bid/no-bid process? If the answer is “no” or even “I don’t know,” that’s the problem.  

Market research, networking, customer intelligence, and competitive analysis are valuable tools in bid/no-bid decisions. Find clients whose mission or values mirror your own. Develop a robust process for assessing an opportunity’s viability. Explore new industries or avenues where you can be of service. 

In short, stop wasting time responding to irrelevant opportunities and see your win rates skyrocket. 

To learn more about bid/no-bid decisions, check out RFPs 101 Lesson 6: Bid or No Bid? 

Bid or No Bid? Part 1: Either Way, Confidence is Key. 

Bid or No Bid? Part 2: The First Step Is Always the Hardest. 

Bid or No Bid? Let’s Get Technical. 

The Wonderful World of RFPs

We hope you enjoyed dispelling these myths. To learn more about the wild, wonderful world of procurement, click here. 

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash 

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