1. What issues are most important to the proposal evaluators?
From the evaluators point of view, they'll be looking to see if you have
identified their main problem, such as articulating what issues needs to be
solved (besides the most obvious reasons); what goals need to be accomplished; what issues
have the highest priority; and what recommendations you are making.
As covered elsewhere on Klariti.com, proposals need to be client-centric.
Business Proposal - Project Costs Breakdown
Such proposals pinpoint the clients specific issues (stated and unstated)
which ultimately produce a very personalized bid.
2. How do the evaluators perceive your company?
Before bidding, your sales team should have prepared the groundwork with the
prospective client. Pre-sales activities will ensure that the client has an idea
of who you are - though maybe not as well as you would like - so that you are not
submitting a cold bid.
A cold bid is sent from a company who has had no previous
contact with the government agency. Like their telephone equivalent, the cold call, they
tend to have low success rates.
However, if you are bidding to an agency for the first time, you can rectify this by
submitting high-quality product brochures, cases studies and white papers.
In addition, you can get-to-know the evaluators during the clarification questions,
briefing sessions and during the presentations.
3. Will the evaluators preconceptions about your company
As mentioned previously, if you are new to them then they will generally remain neutral
until proved otherwise. Opinions about your credibility and potential as
a winning candidate will arise when they question your references, meet you in person, and
examine the finer details of your bid, such as the terms and conditions.
Proposal Manager Toolkit - Cost Breakdown
Evaluators know that references (e.g. referees) are unlikely to speak poorly about the
bidding company and may not give much importance to this area but they will contact the
references anyway, as this is part of the formal evaluation procedure.
To make sure you're represented in the best light, speak to the references in advance
and remind them of key areas to emphasize, such as how you delivered on budget, your
reliability, and other value-ads.
4. Do competitors hold a preferred position with the evaluators?
When you know that a competitor is in a preferential position with the evaluators, you
need to consider if you can:
- Outbid them, both in execution and on price
- Offer a more convincing solution, i.e. technically superior solution
- Explore the competitors perceived weaknesses i.e. where you can score points.
If you cannot find solid arguments to dislodge the preferred competitors, you might
want to re-consider the bid/no bid strategy.
A typical area where competitors have an advantage is when the incumbent is
bidding for an extension of an existing project. In this situation, the incumbent
can identify certain areas where you cannot compete, e.g. knowledge of the existing
But, you can counteract this by stressing that your rates, flexibility, competitive
bid, SLA, and value-ad make you a worthwhile
Smaller companies can emphasis their speed, nimbleness and flexibility when competing
against vast IT powerhouses.
5. How to position your solution?
When IT personnel write proposals, they often get sidetracked into detailing the system
innards. If this is required, then fine. But otherwise, you need to keep these sections in
check as they deviate from the proposals main objectives.
Proposal Manager Toolkit - Clarifications
Likewise, when Sales executives write proposals they can be guilty of adopting a
writing style often referred to as marketese. Most evaluators are not impressed with this,
especially when the copy is snowed under with outlandish claims to product superiority
Essentially, you need to position your solution so that it is aligned exactly
with their requirements.
To be fair, you sometimes have to work very hard to unearth these requirements as not
all Request for Proposals are well formulated but that's part of your job.
Once you understand this, write the solution description point-by-point inline with
their submission form. Don't deviate one iota from the submission form as otherwise you
will be disqualified.
Note: be very careful when suggesting a solution that goes above or beyond the
requirements. Most evaluators will interpret this as an attempt to out-wit the client.
6. How will be proposals be evaluated?
For most large-scale projects, the evaluators will compile an evaluation grid against
which they will score the bids. On European Union projects, the evaluation grid is often
included with the Request for Proposal.
If the Evaluation Grid is not included with the RFP, you can assume that is will be
based on the tender submission format. It is for this reason that you need to prepare your
response exactly as per the submission format.
An evaluation grid is a matrix with the key criteria on one side and the weighted
scores on the other.
|Understanding of Requirements
|Fixed Price Cost
|Other Factors etc
Sample Evaluation Grid
7. What weight does each criterion get?
The evaluation team generally allocate the weight according to each respective
criterion, e.g. the fixed-price costs.
However, in European Union contracts, the RFP may stipulate that most
economically advantageous tender (M.E.A.T) will win the contract.
Conversely, they can also state that they are NOT bound to accept the lowest bid.
Nonetheless, you need to get the cost right. Pre-sales and business development
functions should assist you in guess/estimating where to pitch your bid.
When bidding, this should be the very first activity to undertake. Do not leave costing
to the end!
Evaluators use different formulas to determine financial criteria, such as
Value-For-Money, hidden costs and change control.
For this reason, you need to outline your costs very clearly.
Don't Attempt To Disguise Costs
PS: Attempts to disguise costs, e.g. bury them inside the terms and
conditions, will raise suspicions and erode any trust between the bidder and the
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