You’ve nailed the first draft of your proposal. Now what? Here are five ways you can instantly improve the focus and flow of your documents, whether it’s a PQQ or an ITT/RFP, making your response clearer and cleaner before you submit it for internal review.
1. Have you answered the question?
Go back to the question and read it over again. Why is the customer asking this specific question? What are their priorities? Have you actually answered the question? All of it?
Somewhere in the customer’s document, it will give guidance on how the responses will be marked. This helps you understand what their priorities are. Remember, the customer’s perspective could be different to yours.
Underline all of the important elements and underline where you have addressed those elements in your answer to make sure you have answered every part of the question. This will also help you highlight the padding and the bits where you strayed away from the exam question.
2. What words are you using?
Don’t make the reviewer search for the answer. Make sure you’ve used the same terminology in the answer that has been used in the question. In other words, if the customer asks about zucchinis, don’t turn them into courgettes, even if that’s what you call them. The customer wants zucchinis. Give them what they want and make sure they know that’s what you’ve given them.
3. What are the benefits?
The chances are, on your first draft you’ve outlined the “what” (zucchinis) and probably the “how” (delivered fresh from the farm). Now make sure you’ve told them what benefits your zucchinis bring. This doesn’t mean listing the zucchini’s characteristics: it’s green, straighter than other zucchinis, with light, white flesh. This needs to be about the customer. Why do they want your zucchini?
SpiralFresh, our vegetable buyer, doesn’t really care that the zucchini is straight. SpiralFresh cares about its bottom line. That’s why we want to tell them something like this: SpiralFresh will be able to utilise in excess of 99% of this zucchini as it is 5° straighter than any other zucchini on the market, reducing wastage in the cooking process and contributing to cost savings of around 3%, based on SpiralFresh’s published purchasing volumes.
4. By how much?
The words you put into this response are important, but so are the numbers. Numbers are proof.
A generic statement like “Zac’s zucchinis are nutritious and delicious” comes across as marketing. Most PQQs and ITTs deliberately ask for marketing statements to be avoided. These kinds of statements are easily dismissed, too. Of course you’re going to say your product, service or solution is brilliant, but what do the numbers say?
“96% of chefs chose Zac’s zucchinis in a blind flavour test.” Now that’s good. That’s science and mathematics validating your marketing claims.
5. DYK how to write better?
Try and read through your proposal as though you don’t know anything about your company or solution. Printing it and reading it out loud is one of the best ways to try and get to grips with this.
Every industry has its own acronyms and jargon. Your reviewers may be internal, but your customers are not and they need to understand the story you’re telling them. Keep it simple.
Firstly, all acronyms should be written out in full the first time you use them, with the acronym in brackets.
This might not mean anything to someone outside your company, even if they’re in the same industry: Zac’s uses FF technology to ensure crispness.
This makes it clear: Zac’s uses Freshness First (FF) technology to ensure crispness.
Even better is: Zac’s uses Freshness First technology to ensure crispness. FF utilises immediate low-temperature storage to maintain the integral characteristics of produce, counterbalancing extended delivery timelines.
Someone who knows about FF technology will understand this, but so will someone who doesn’t, and that’s what you want.
By the time you’ve worked your way through these hacks, you should be ready for review. Put the pen down, take some time out and wait for the feedback that will further improve your response.
Remember, if you need help crafting and reviewing wining proposals, BiD Masters can help. See www.bid-masters.com