Did you lay the groundwork?
Pause and Ponder series
Are you wondering why your proposal got rejected?
#Reason 1/10: You didn’t lay the groundwork
There are several reasons for a proposal rejection, however few of them are big bloopers. Nobody gets a second chance, and so you can’t afford to miss your first shot.
You heard about the opportunity and sent in a proposal, hoping that it would be the lowest bid. It’s dumb because if the prospect doesn’t know you, or have heard your organization’s name for the first time, they are not going do business with you.
Knowing your customer and making them know you are the first and foremost driver of your business success. Before you go to your prospect with your proposal, it is fundamentally essential that you understand their business, their business challenges, and needs. Find out what they are looking for and whom they are looking for. Put yourself in their shoes to find the right fit and then propose the right solution. It requires a lot of market research, certainly, Company Profiling and Executive Profiling works at this stage. The successful vendors engage their prospects at the early stage of the buying lifecycle by sharing their thought leadership, demonstrating industry expertise, leveraging relationships, and showing commitment towards their business success.
However, many vendors believe in pre-cooked boilerplate proposals for faster time to market. Certainly, it does save time initially, however, they have to pay the price of buying the time later. Pre-cooked proposals rarely work, as it does not cater to the customer’s requirements at a macro level and does not address the business goals in a way the customer wants. If the prospect makes out that the proposal was not written for them and for that particular business need, it has found the place – yes! The “Trash bin”. And that’s why it is essential to know your prospect’s challenges beyond what’s there in the RFP and tailor your proposal accordingly, at every level.
Groundwork is also required to beat ‘Competition’. Sitting in a closed room and responding to an RFP, without having a clue about what the competitors are up to, can ruin your efforts completely. This is where a ‘competitive strategy’ can help. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors (SWOT analysis) will directly impact your RFP response. You can highlight your strengths/sweet spot to counter competitor’s weaknesses, identify an alternative for their strengths/your weaknesses, and create strategies to mitigate your risks due to weaknesses, to add additional weight to your proposal, and in turn the increase in its winning probability.
To summarize, next time you get an opportunity, don’t be in a hurry to send in a proposal, Pause and Ponder on these three critical elements and you will certainly win.