by Sheryl Birsky
Compared to this time last year, there seems to be an abundance of RFP/Task Order releases from the Government. In the heat of proposal preparation, there are often over-looked factors that can make a difference to the evaluation of your proposal. Here are a few reminders.
Write customer-focused, not company-centric proposals. Ensure that every paragraph of your response addresses their solution, their pain points. Your company mission is irrelevant to them – it is about their mission! Do a word search and see how many times your firm’s name appears versus theirs.
Design for proposal evaluators who skim. Make your proposal easy to read – short sentences with headers, bullets, and graphics. Do not make evaluators have to work to get your message. Use “’features/benefits” tables or text boxes to summarize your key points and “take aways.” Write like a newspaper—headlines and most important points first, followed with additional information, and then full details last.
Choose language carefully. Use the customer’s language and terms in your proposal – which may differ than your company’s or that of industry. As well, avoid negative turns of phrase (e.g., 99% retention rate versus 1% attrition rate). Your language must be in agreement with the compliance language of the solicitation.
Support your claims! Evaluators question everything – ensure that all claims and offerings can be validated. Provide qualitative or quantitative proof and be careful when using such words as “guarantee” “promise,” or “ensure.” When you make a statement, be prepared to follow up with a statement beginning “as evidenced by…”
Beware of boilerplate. Take the time to tailor your text! Do not give short-shrift to resumes or past performance descriptions! And, make them “’skimmable” as well with summary boxes or short headers that highlight key attributes.
If you have questions or require proposal support, contact Sheryl Birsky at Sheryl@sidjaffe.com or phone (202)785-5811.