The Trick to Proposals is Knowing if You Should Even Do One
We teach a course on Proposal Systems and Processes. Attendees are usually surprised when my class starts off with all the reasons for not doing proposals.
Personally, I hate RFPs, but responding to them is an essential part of doing business for many professional
service knowledge firms.
If you've got to do proposals, you might as well do them effectively, right?
About RFPs, Ron Baker posted at VeraSage saying:
RFPs have become more commonplace as competitive bidding has replaced negotiation for price buyers. It is as if dysfunctional buying practices have arisen to counter dysfunctional selling practices.
Honestly, I didn't know Baker and I agreed quite so much on the topic of proposals. His post "RFPs and the Dreaded Winner's Curse" is a great read. He encapsulates my own philosophy really well (I swear we didn't even talk about this!):
Another strategy with RFPs is: No surprises. Your potential customer should know everything in your proposal before you submit it. Gaining an understanding of your customer’s expectations, business model—how they make money—and how your company can add value is imperative to increase your odds of a successful proposal, one that will not suffer from the winner’s curse.
Search for the differences that will ultimately be weighed in selecting a new supplier. If customers are worth bidding on, they are worth spending some resources on in order to improve your chances.