It’s been clear to us during the last four months that RFP decision making continues to shift. In this new pandemic climate, the impact of a wrong selection is just too great. So, you have to step it up plain and simple. You won’t get a shot at winning a pursuit unless you meet minimum qualifications for experience and technical expertise. It also means you don’t differentiate yourself well enough based on experience and technical expertise.
So, at the point where a prospect is reviewing multiple RFP responses, it’s almost certain they are seeing a number of equivalent options -firms with similar solutions, capabilities, and teams. That means that decision making will now move to another level and another set of criteria and you have to be prepared.
Messaging in the RFP Response
Your pre-RFP activities are meant to best position you to win before the RFP drops. But how about the RFP submission itself? What will reviewers be looking for, especially now?
Artemis has long believed that the technical aspects of your submission are the Price of Entry. That means your team and its submission must emphasize more than the “solution.” There are many ways of planning this. Here’s an interesting, valuable construct to consider.
In their March 16, 2020 post, McKinsey & Company said that companies that focus on both “Performance and Health” outperform their peers “on almost every financial indicator we’ve seen.”
What does this mean for RFP submissions?
Take a look at this chart from the McKinsey post:
Ask yourself this: Do our proposals emphasize Performance? Or do they provide a balance of Performance and Health? Here’s what we mean.
PERFORMANCE: The submission provides the technical aspects of the solution and the qualifications of the team.
HEALTH: The submission provides evidence of how the competing firm will work with the client, and what deliverables will be provided by each team member.
What are the focal points of your RFP responses?
The default for most proposals is Performance. Firms feel they can make a strong case for their solution and their experience. In our view, this is necessary, but squarely falls into the category of Price of Entry. Importantly, it might not be as differentiating as the pursuit team thinks it is.
The Health factors might very well be where winning and losing is determined.
Then there is the Culture and Behavior elements that communicate to the prospect that you are a company they want to work with - that share their values and vision. And that you understand what’s really important to them and will collaborate and, when needed, lead. Lastly, that you conduct business, and build relationships, that are truly client-centric.
Even in the most tightly controlled opportunities, firms can still advocate for their Health. For example, use the cover letter for the submission to discuss these areas.
The factors of Culture and Behavior are likely to be recognized by decision makers as contributors to real differentiation. They predict overall “fit” with the client organization. This differentiation will get you much closer to the big win you’re after.
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- Bob Wiesner, Manging Partner, The Americas