How To Write a Request For Proposal? Part TWO

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Last week we discussed Part One of our steps for writing a bid on a Request For Proposal.  This week we are going to discuss a ton of tips to assist you.

Proposal Writing Tips

Most important, your proposal needs to address the government’s requirements, be written clearly, and be persuasive.  Below we will discuss our suggested writing tips.  Please feel free to use them as you see fit.

The Proposal Is a Sales Document.

Write your proposal like a sales document. Your bid must sell your company’s ability to meet the requirements, to fulfill all the stated conditions, and to deliver on time.  Be specific and direct. Don’t be vague as this will demonstrate that you do not understand the requirement and create questions in the minds of the evaluators.  Substantiate your promises and assertions with facts and details.  Remember your goal is to persuade evaluators that your offer is superior to those of competing companies and to prove that your company can do the job.

Demonstrate your understanding of the government’s need.

Demonstrate a complete understanding of the requirement or problem. This may sometimes be a challenge.  While, in some cases, the buying office will know exactly what it needs, in other cases, it may not know or may use conflicting or vague terminology.  In either event, it is your responsibility to demonstrate your understanding of the requirement.  Remember, It is not the responsibility of the buying office to interpret your knowledge.  If your proposal does not respond to the stated need or responds to only part of the requirement, your bid will not be considered for contract award.  Worse case your proposal may not even receive a complete evaluation!!

Demonstrate Your Qualifications

It is your responsibility to prove to the government that you are qualified to provide the services or products that they need. This means that not only must you demonstrate your understanding of the problem or requirement; you must also demonstrate your ability to solve or meet it. Make sure to include your staff’s qualification, relevant facilities, and equipment, as well as any other qualifications that are specific to the project.  Your proposal should communicate your ability to perform the contract successfully.  Include documentation of successful fulfillment of past contracts can also help prove your point.

List Your Past Performance.

Give examples of excellent contract performance on past contracts.  This will show experience in related areas and your ability to correct any problems or situations that might arise.  If you had issues on a contract let the government know that and explain how you resolved those issues.  Under those circumstances, the government will want to see how you resolved the problems and the final outcome.

If you are looking at a contract that is much larger than you have had in the past, show how you will manage it, what you are going to do, who you are working with and how you will work together.  Include who is responsible for what, and who will do the work.  To sum it up be as transparent as possible!

Respond to the stated evaluation criteria.

Section M – Evaluation of Proposal

Section M of the solicitation identifies the factors that will be used by the buying office to evaluate your proposal.  Cost is one factor but not the only one the government will review.  A point often overlooked is that the government will consider lowest price and technically acceptable on a ton of contract. If your proposal does not respond to every criterion, it will be judged “technically unacceptable” and will not be considered for contract award.  Don’t miss out on a contract because you overlooked the evaluation factors.

Review Section L – How Proposal Needs to Be Formatted.

Follow the required proposal format.  Section L of the solicitation specifies which topics should be covered in your proposal as well as the order in which they should be presented.  If you do not follow the required content format and organization, you risk neglecting or omitting important information, which will result in rejection of your proposal.  To point out lots of times the government will tell you how many pages you have to write something along with the font, and font size to be used on your proposal.

Writing Style

Use a Consistent writing style. Don’t try to get wordy or long winded.  Stay on topic and get to the point.  Read the evaluation factors and use that to make the reader’s job easy.  If there are areas that you might be deficient, don’t try to hide them, highlight them, and show how you will “solve the problem.”  Use graphics sparsely and only to illustrate a point that needs to be made.  A point often overlooked is when cutting and pasting from another document.  The style from the last proposal maybe different from this one.  When you copy and paste lots of time the formatting copied with the content.  Use bullets and headlines that will help you keep on topic.  

Cost & Management Information.

 Provide adequate management and cost information. You need to demonstrate your ability to manage the work and account for all the costs involved in performing the contract.  Also, provide adequate cost and pricing data. 

Critique & Proofread Your Proposal.

Proofread and critique your proposal. Writing an effective proposal requires time, patience, and care.  Be prepared to write, evaluate, and rewrite, as needed.  Rewriting gives you the chance to improve the quality and responsiveness of your proposal.  Pay attention to detail. Proper grammar and spelling count.  If necessary, ask another person with those skills to proofread the final draft for you.

Provide Clear Explanations.

If you use abbreviations, acronyms, or in-house or trade terms, make sure that you spell them out or define them at least the first time they are used.

Attend Proposal Workshops

You can learn a ton of tips and tricks by attending a proposal writing workshop. There are several good proposals writing workshops offered through your Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. (PTAC)

Build a Proposal Database

Keep a database of all your project proposals. Why keeps a database?  For one thing a database can save you time and money down the road.  The next time you must write a bid, you can go back and perhaps use all or part of a proposal that you did in the past.

Prepare for Presentations.

Make Plans for an Oral Presentation. The government may require prospective offerors to give oral presentations as part of the selection process.  For example, GSA will record the performance on video and review it on a later date.  When they request the officers to come in and do a presentation, which does not mean the sales manager; it means the president, and the vice-president of marketing (if larger enough company). In addition, now is the time to discuss your set-aside status.

Set-aside Status

If your business is a woman-owned small business, it means the “woman,” not the male sales manager or husband.  If you represent yourself as a particular business type, be sure that comes out at the presentation.  This could mean the difference between being the winner or requesting the post-award debriefing.  This is your shot to demonstrate that your business has the answer to their requirement.  It is important to realize that the decision makers in the government are people.  To sum up, the more transparent you are with these representatives the more comfortable they will get to be with you and visa versa.

Now with that said, let’s wrap this article up.

Conclusion

In summary, there is a ton of things to consider while writing your proposal.  We obviously could not cover every item but tried to highlight those that we felt were most important.

As a result of today’s topic, we hope you are better prepared for writing your next proposal. Remember to subscribe so that you are notified when we release new content.  In case you wish to read more from our author, please see our blog.

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