Writing bids and proposals is an integral part of running your independent consultancy. However, a formal RFP process can be filled with tedious details that can feel overwhelming to the solo consultant. For this reason, it is more important than ever to understand how to assess and respond to RFP opportunities. Tom Sant, Author of Persuasive Business Proposals (the world's largest selling book on proposal writing), offers his tips on building a winning bid.
Evaluate the opportunity. Because RFPs can be time consuming, independent consultants should assess whether the investment of time makes sense. Sant suggests spending time only on those deals that you have a real opportunity to win. To assess the RFP, consider the following:
Prepare before you respond. A formal RFP will likely have content and administrative guidelines. You must follow the "rules" or risk having your bid invalidated. This is especially true when dealing with government contract opportunities. Sant recommends taking time to get organized before you respond.
Write to win. Once you're organized and ready to respond, you will want to write a winning proposal.
Write your executive summary first. Sant advises that this may be the only part of the RFP that will be read by executives involved in the review process, so completing it first is critical for a successful response.
While your answers to RFP questions will be short and factual, you have the opportunity to shine with your cover letter and executive summary. Maintain a focus on what the client wants and needs to develop a strong, targeted proposal.
After investing the time to prepare your response, you want to make sure that you have leveraged every opportunity to win. Use the following checklist to review your response before submitting.
RFPs are germane to business and can yield new business for the independent consultant. However, it is important to be judicious and only respond to RFPs that you have a real opportunity to win. Then you will want to make your investment pay off by being meticulous in how you respond and providing a well written, strong document that positions you to win the business.
For more tips on building a winning bid, watch Webinar: Building a Winning Bid: How to Respond to Requests for Proposals.
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