Developing winning proposals and responses to RFPs takes enormous planning, strategy and execution from your team. And the restrictions brought on by COVID-19 have made the logistics more challenging. RFP responses and the subsequent oral presentation can easily consume many 100’s of man-hours. More as the stakes go up.
Fortunately, there are ways your firm can find efficiencies to make it less taxing on your pursuit teams both in terms of actual time and mental capacity.
Spend Time Gathering Data
You can never spend too much time trying to discern the prospect’s real motivations and goals. From the moment you begin developing a relationship with your prospect, your mission is to create as many points of contact as you can, and to get maximum value from every one. Make each moment with the prospect count. And please remember - these touchpoints aren’t interrogations. Try out your messaging. Bring insights. Show real interest in the individuals as well as their businesses. Remember the importance of empathy as your prospect, like you, struggles with the pandemic. All this will turn into trust and ultimately real data for you that will be invaluable in the pursuit.
Also, don’t keep the data you’ve gathered to yourself. Share it with the team developing the technical response. They can use that information to deliver a targeted proposal that truly solves the problem in the RFP.
Start the Proposal Before You Have a Solution
While many teams wait to begin creating the response until the solution is decided, in actuality an effective pursuit team can - and should - begin creating the structure of their proposal or oral presentation well before the solution is final. This thinking will make the inevitable RFI and RFQ responses much more compelling. And, importantly, it will mean fewer false starts and revisions. Efficiencies are realized when content is better on the initial drafts.
And here’s a place where you can save a lot of time: The credentials or capabilities part of your submission. Many pursuit teams spend too much time figuring out how to talk about themselves. This is less important - and less differentiating - than many pursuit teams realize. Your credentials only matter in the RFI and RFQ stage if you can make them completely relevant and meaningful based on what that specific prospect is likely to want.
Skip the Flashy Presentation
Many firms are realizing today that the dense slide show is problematic during this period of isolation. We’ve felt this to be true long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19. Too many organizations and specifically pursuit teams attempt to wow a prospect with complex presentation visuals, but in actuality, much of the time spent on developing graphics and presentation slides would be much better spent elsewhere. We have found that many losing presentations were way too content-dense, and ultimately difficult for buyers to draw conclusions from. Keep your solutions, big ideas and positioning simple so that your buyer walks away knowing exactly how your organization will bring solutions to their business. And spend more time - even in virtual meetings - making authentic, honest, person-to-person contact. You want the prospect to trust the team, not the slideshow. Spend less time - and money - on fancy presentation decks.
Keep this in mind — you can never spend too much time trying to discern the prospect’s real motivations and goals. Once that big idea is decided, a winning presentation has the power to take off.
- Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, Americas