How to win proposals

How to win proposals

You can beat your competitors (even if you are new in the business) if you know the art of preparing winning proposals. The prospects usually send a formal document called a Request for Proposal (RFP) that includes all the specs. You need to submit a proposal in response that reflects your ability to meet the requirements.

These tips will help you prepare winning proposals.

Have you had prior meetings?

If this is the first time you’re seeing this proposal, walk away.  That’s right, leave it.  Your best chances of winning it are 1 divided by the number of competitors.  So if 3 are bidding including you, your best chance is 33%.  I say best because one or more of your competitors has had prior meetings and may have even helped prepare the RFP.  If that’s the case, your chances have even decreased substantially from 33%.  Now in my world 70% plus is my closing ratio.  So anything less than this is taboo.

If you are working your relationships, you should know this RFP is coming and hopefully, you’ve help write it.  You will have met with all the influencers and key decision-makers, especially the ultimate, final authority, and learned what it will take to win his or her vote.

Now you may think this is ridiculous to do, but if you are managing your territory, this is how it’s done to win 70% plus of the times you bid.

Think of what you spend, time, money, other resources to prepare a bid.  Once you start gauging these costs against your winning percentages, you’ll see that bidding an unknown is a waste.  You’d be far more successful spending that time, money and other resources to be out in your territory developing relationships that let you know what’s coming down the pike.

Is this you kind of customer?

What is your ideal customer profile? That is, what are the soft characteristics that define the types of customers that are good for you and easy for you to close?  You probably have hard characteristics, such as dollar revenue, number of employees, type of business, etc.  But the soft are more like, do you have access to the top people and other influencers; are they communicators – talk and listen – give you critical information and open to your ideas; are they doing well and believe it; do they have the money and are willing to spend it; etc.  So if you don’t have specific soft criteria, you have to go through an exercise to establish them.  Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.


How well does it match your strengths?

There are certain projects where you excel and some are real losers for you.  For example, I am good at sales training, but C-level sales training is where I really excel.  So competing for training new sales people would be a project where competitors are better equipped and far more competitive.  So I tend to stay away from them.  Now if a good customer asks me to bid on a big new sales people training contract against other competitors, I will submit a courtesy bid – one that is legitimate, but put together with minimal effort – to respect our relationship.

Now you probably already have criteria for types of projects that are really good for you on the project side (not customer characteristics).  If not, you need to develop them. Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.

So if this project is in your wheel house, then go after it.  If not, spend your time looking for those that are.

Create your Go, No-Go Matrix

The x-axis is for the quality rating of your customer.  Rate each soft characteristic from -5 to +5 – no zeros. You must take a stand.  If you have 5 characteristics add up the score.  What is your total our of a possible -25 to +25, which by the way is the range of your x-axis.

Now do the same for your type of customer.  Gauge each one, add it up.

Now see where the score for each set of criteria lands and decide what to do.


Conclusion: A lot of sales representatives close the deal solely through choosing the right proposals to bid on.  Make sure to bid on only proposals where you’ve had prior meetings and those that fit your profile. You can contact Sam Manfer from Sales Mastery Institute to help you close more deals. Click here to know more.

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