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· Ask questions well in advance. If anyone on your team has any questions about RFP, make sure that you ask them well in advance of query deadline. And because agency replies are typically distributed to all proponents, it’s important to carefully phrase your questions, so that you do not give away any information on strategy or pricing to your competition.
· Create a budget checklist to ensure that you have accounted for all proposed revenues, expenses and additional costs.
· Allow plenty of time to gather all financial information you will require. Make sure you understand financial nature of RFP – fixed fee, cost-plus, etc. and price your proposal accordingly.
· Follow RFP outline and structure exactly when preparing your proposal. The contracting agency will be comparing your “apples” to those of your competition; you don’t want them hunting for information because you chose to follow a different format.
· Follow all proposal preparation instructions exactly. If you take one step out of line your proposal could be eliminated before it’s even read or considered.
· Follow conventions and structure specified exactly in RFP. Don’t assume that contracting agency has any prior knowledge of your organization’s staff, capabilities and work experience. Their job is to review, compare and contrast only that information which is contained in each proposal.
· Fully describe value and benefits of your organization’s products and services, not just features. These benefits may seem completely obvious to you, but they may not be quite so obvious to decision makers. If you can clearly and directly describe benefits to your contracting agency, and convince these decision makers that your proposal contains biggest and most important benefits, you will automatically set yourself above your competition.
· Clearly answer who, what, when, where and why details specified in RFP.
· Use tables, charts and other graphic elements to display information and break up large chunks of text. This will make your proposal easier to read, digest and evaluate.
· Accurately document and list any assumptions you make when presenting your budget. Triple-check that all numbers add up. Print out a hard copy of your budget to assist in spotting errors. When displaying numbers, make sure you use a font that is large enough and easy to read.
· Proofread for consistency throughout your proposal in terms of spelling, punctuation, section headings, etc. Ensure that each copy of your proposal contains all pages in correct order.
· Complete and sign all associated forms that must accompany your bid. Read submission instructions over one last time to ensure that you have included everything and followed instructions exactly.
The Executive Summary is most important section of your proposal
The Executive Summary is first (and sometimes only) section that will be read by RFP decision makers. While Executive Summary appears first in most proposals, it should be last section that you write, as it must capture your proposal’s highlights, and it must underscore strength and competence of your team.
Mel-Lynda Andersen is a Communications Strategist and a principal of INCOMPAS Communications. INCOMPAS offers strategic, innovative approaches to communications and marketing initiatives to a broad spectrum of private and public sector organizations from initial concept and abstract idea through to completion. Subscribe to INCOMPAS’s newsletter, eNEWS, for more original articles. Copyright © 1999-2004 INCOMPAS. www.incompas.com