As a professional services firm, I spend an awful lot of my time preparing and submitting proposals. They are time consuming, sometimes costly and not immediately effective. So why submit them? Well there are a million reasons against them, but here are my top 5 reasons for them.
They introduce your company and your ability
I am not a formal person, but I do know what I know so when I submit proposals whatever feedback I get is usually starts with how much the proposal was liked. A proposal is a chance to introduce your company to another company who doesn’t know if they want to invite you to the dance. This is your chance to highlight your skill set, your knowledge and your ability to provide quality work.
It’s a chance to give your company a personality
I’ve written hundreds of these things and the one thing I know is that for every proposal you submit, the contracting officer is going to have to read about 20 of them. Why not use the proposal to show your company’s personality? It’s a chance to show where your passion in your industry lies. This is the perfect opportunity to put a personal spin on business and set you apart from every other firm out there.
The debrief is a gold mine of constructive criticism
It may be the eternal optimist in me to find the silver lining in a rejection, but I’ve learned through the years that the debrief tells what you lacked to be the winner. Imagine if you missed it by a few points, next time you know what you need. It is intensely frustrating because every contracting officer or purchasing official has a different definition of great, but this is where your market research and the company’s strategic plan come into play. With that debrief you get a snapshot into where that company’s focus is and how they judge performance. Those are some seriously important pieces of knowledge.
You get to know the person who buys for the organization
Under ordinary circumstances this person is inundated day in and day out with sales pitches, but during a proposal they are focused. They have to pick someone and this gives you a chance to know if they are accommodating, how much credence they give to value or if they are the kind of purchaser that just wants to move the task off of their desk.
You get to teach about your company
There’s an adage that says to learn you must teach and I think that this is never truer than when writing a proposal. You are an expert on you company but if you can’t translate that knowledge to someone who knows nothing about what you do, your expertise doesn’t matter. Writing a proposal forces you to focus on your audience in a way that they can understand what you are trying to do.
Are proposals easy? No. Are they quick? No. But are they worth it? Yes. If you are serious about establishing your company and creating a solid reputation, proposals can help with that foundation. If you continuously submit proposals that are solid bids, then eventually you move from waiting for an invitation to arriving at the dance.