In many ways, being a proposal manager is like being an artist: A lot of people think they could do your job, but few people have any idea what it really takes to do it well. How hard could it be to write a persuasive RFP response, really?
One of the reasons for this is that many sales folks and others see proposals as informational documents. A prospect sends over a bunch of questions, you send back a bunch of answers, and if the fit is right, you’ll move on to the next phase of the sales cycle.
In their essence, RFP responses are sales assets. They’re a crucial moment you can take advantage of to position your business and nudge out the competition. (Because there is always competition, even if that competition is simply the status quo.) Especially if you’re selling into large buying groups (which increasing numbers of us are) over long buy cycles, you can’t waste this opportunity to deliver a persuasive business case through your proposal.
What’s the Goal of an RFP Response?
Seems obvious! A lot of folks would say that a proposal’s job is to showcase your solution to a potential customer and give them everything they need to make a decision. This isn’t technically wrong, to be sure, but there’s something deeper proposal managers should strive for every time they hit send:
An RFP response should persuade someone to take action.
If you’ve properly vetted your prospects before deciding to submit a proposal, then you should feel entirely confident that your solution can deliver value to the organization. Now, you need the decision-makers in the account to see what you see; you need to earn their trust and preview the outcomes they can expect if they decide to take you on as a partner.
4 Features of a Persuasive Proposal
There’s no one-size-fits-all template for a persuasive RFP response. But before you send out your next proposal, check to make sure you’ve done each of the following:
What does this organization need? What about the key influencers in the account? What pains are they feeling? Prove that you’ve listened to what they’ve told you thus far, and that you understand the business challenges they’re facing. You don’t have to jump into solving them right away. First, let the prospect know that they’ve truly been heard.
2. Focus on Outcomes
The intuitive next step is to dive into the solution, but not so fast! Instead of getting into the details of how you’ll get them to a better state, show them what that better state looks like in the first place.
Paint a picture in your RFP response of the benefits the prospect can expect to see if they do business with you. Be optimistic and positive without promising anything you can’t deliver. Help the decision-makers envision what their life will look like with you in it.
Not only does this approach help your buyer feel positive, it also builds anticipation. I’ve seen the promised land! Now how do I get there??
3. Spell Out a Solution
Now is the time you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to break down how exactly you’re prepared to help them reach this desired state.
What products/plans will you offer? What differentiating offers will be of particular value? What’s more, what strategic approach do you recommend they take to get where they want to be?
4. Provide Evidence
Now you can lay out the facts that will serve to back up the arguments presented across your RFP response. What stats and numbers support the emotional decision you’re enticing the prospect to make? How have you driven outcomes at similar businesses? What proof can you point to that your offering is as good as you say it is?
Before you sit down to write up your next proposal, take a minute to consider what you’re trying to achieve. Are you merely trying to inform? Or are you looking to inspire someone to take action?
Qvidian’s proposal automation software is more than just a tool: It’s a better approach. See why >