Evaluators tell you what they want in the RFP. That’s all they want.
They want a practical, low cost solution as reflected in the RFP technical proposal requirements. More sophisticated solutions are not wanted and may in fact result in a reduced technical score.
They don’t want more than they requested in Section L including:
- Sales pitch about how great you company is.
- More corporate experience summaries and resumes than they asked for.
- Management plan information beyond what they requested in the RFP.
- Fancy formatting and graphics.
- They want you to make their job easy and save them time
Evaluators also want clarity and conciseness to make their job easier. Government proposal evaluators do not like evaluating lengthy tomes and demand clarity and conciseness.
- Use simple declarative sentences and short paragraphs.
- Explain how your organization will meet each and every requirement in a clear, concise manner.
- Describe why your organization is unique, but only when you can be convincing and the uniqueness stands up to scrutiny.
- Use appendices for detailed material.
- Use simple, easy–to-understand language.
- Avoid long-winded sentences. Use simple, declarative sentences. Keep paragraphs concise and short.
- Avoid subjective adjectives that sound boastful.
Avoid letting your CEO throw in self-serving sales pitches without backup and clear evidence relevant to the requirements. An example of this: “ABC Co is a World Class or Best of Breed Company.” Proposal evaluators laugh at such statements; they are the polar opposite of clarity and conciseness. Avoid the “You have got to be kidding pile” – the trash pile – for proposals that start with such language as: “Our firm is a world-class, best-of-breed company that is eminently qualified to serve your organization.”
Complete compliance with every requirement of the RFP is a necessity because any compliance flaw in your proposal can cause an immediate proposal rejection. This makes their job a lot easier if they have 20 plus proposals to review by tomorrow at its already after 11 pm.
Most evaluators want to make the trash pile large and the “read completely” pile as small as possible. The evaluator typically will read just as much as necessary to put a proposal in one of the two piles.
Don’t end up in the wrong pile!
Proposal writing is the Achilles heel of federal proposal writing. Most companies wish there was an easier way and evaluators dream of it going away altogether. The recent trend of “project experience based” Multiple Award Contracts (MACs) is a start on an easier way but are far from the solution. Proving project experience through contract documents and corresponding performance evaluations can complicate RFPs even further than a traditional RFP. But they do solve the technical writing requirements that plague many small businesses.
The art of proposal writing consists of providing a compelling solution that addresses all of the requirements specified in the RFP. And then avoiding the trash pile by being completely compliant with every requirement in the RFP. Don’t try to think for the customer. Give the customer everything asked for in the RFP, down to the minutest of detail. Write to each and every solicitation requirement, even if it appears to be meaningless on the surface. Evaluators love to eliminate proposals to save time and effort or, sometimes, to help their favorite organization,” and not addressing all of the specified requirements can deem a proposal destine for the trash pile.
Give evaluators precisely what they asked for in the simplest, clearest and most compelling way.
The process of arranging meetings with federal procurement officials (end users) is not an easy one. End users are busy and vendors from countries all around the world are trying to sell the end users their wares. On the other hand, end users are expected to be open to meeting with all vendors and are not supposed to show favoritism. Getting through the door of an end user’s office requires people and sales skills.
The most important thing to remember is that end users are people trying to do their job. They are naturally more eager to meet with those who appear to understand their problems and offer solutions. They will figure out a way to avoid meeting with vendors who appear to be on a fishing expedition.
An obvious question is, “How can I know an end user’s problems without meeting with them first?” Identifying problems is not easy but it can be done. Use the Internet and phone calls to conduct research on the targeted agency’s programs, the structure of the organization, and each individual’s job responsibilities. Talk to other vendors, use your networking contacts, and deduce what their problems may be.
Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts are becoming the preferred way that federal buyers make purchases. In order to compete in either the federal product or service sectors, your firm must have an IDIQ. As the use of IDIQs becomes increasingly more predominant, those which do not will be squeezed out of the market.
Looking at the issue from a practical perspective, one could say that those who have IDIQs have a hunting license. More specifically, such companies have a license to seek and bag a particular species in a specific jurisdiction. In the case of the federal market, only the holders of a specific IDIQ are permitted to bid on designated projects. Don’t be caught out in the wild without the proper license!