You probably don’t like it very much if you find yourself having to sell by submitting an RFP or sales proposal. Most salespeople spend a whole lot of time generating their RFPs and miss the opportunity to be strategic about the RFP. You might also wonder what to include in your sales proposals and RFPs.
Here’s a recent column on how to be strategic when you have to write RFPs. Here’s what to include in your next RFP if you’re wondering what should be part of your proposal or RFP so you are the preferred supplier.
Current situation: What is your prospect’s or customer’s current situation? Describe what the problem is, why it’s important and how much it costs. You might even include a section that says “Costs of Doing Nothing.” Why is this important? You might think another salesman or company is who you are competing with. You’re wrong. Your competition is your customer doing nothing. Remember, people don’t like change. Doing nothing is a real option for prospects and customers.
Proposed solution: Your prospect is going to wonder what exactly you’re proposing. You should include the specifics of what you’re proposing to do in this section. Just be careful about what you propose. You might open yourself to some problems if you’re an information technology company and disclose exactly how you’re going to solve the problem. Some unscrupulous prospects might take your proposal and then “shop” it looking for the lowest bid. You have just done the work and your competition gets the business.
To avoid that wasted effort, you can identify the problems you will solve. Alternatively, you can include a similar situation that another customer experienced and the solution you provided there to demonstrate your proof of performance. This approach allows you to show attention to detail, problem solving and delivery capability.
Implementation: Many prospects will wonder what the implementation looks like. Your job is to provide a timeline for them to see that you can deliver what you say you can. It’s must easier to make a buying decision when a prospect can see that you’ve thought through the implementation steps. It’s also a good idea to define what you need from your prospect so that you can ensure a successful implementation. One example of a requirement is customer responsiveness. You might say in your proposal that customer decisions need to be made within 24 hours to ensure that you can meet project deadlines. That way your prospect knows there needs to be someone on his staff assigned to make those decisions.
Testimonials: Include other customer testimonials that discuss the specifics that you want your customer to know about your work. It’s more credible when other people say the same things you do.
You may not like having to write proposals. You’ll like them more when you get business when you include the right content. Best wishes for your sales success!