Over the years we’ve read hundreds of requests for tenders and proposals seeking services from professional services firms. Often RFT/Ps can seem cobbled together bastardised versions of older requests that have been edited by committee and end up asking silly, repetitive or irrelevant questions.
Most of the time nothing sinister is going on, it is just the RFT/P hasn’t been vetted for ‘sense’ in the rush to go to market. Sometimes additional questions have been quickly added in as an afterthought, or to appease a certain stakeholder.
As tiresome as poorly put together RFT/Ps are you must bear in mind that before a client selects a new expert professional, s/he needs answers to several questions.
While it might be easier if these questions were clearly articulated, you’ll score high marks for anticipation by responding effectively to ‘unspoken questions’ in tenders, bids and proposals.
Responding effectively to (unspoken) questions in tenders, bids and proposals
Winning tenders, bids and proposals answer five simple questions decision makers consistently ask:
- is this the service we really need?
- will it impact our business in a positive way?
- can this firm deliver the services on time and on budget?
- are we getting good value for our money?
- can this firm deliver better than their competitors ? (Give your client a reason to buy specifically from you).
What about responding to ‘crazy’ tender, bid and proposal questions?
On the flip side sometimes you are asked to respond to something ‘crazy’ or more left field such as:
- What is your brand ?
- If completing this tender document has been a journey of discovery what innovation or new ideas have emerged?
- Please explain how you ‘horizon scan’?
Our best tip overall when confronted with something you think is weird (or don’t want to answer) is to be respectful of the client and the evaluators. For whatever reason that question has been retained in the request or perhaps added in last minute by a particular stakeholder.
Even if you think it’s the dumbest thing you’ve been asked (EVER!) avoid at all costs:
- pointing out the silliness of the question
- or displaying arrogance, smugness, or contempt
- making the (prospective) client look or feel stupid
- skipping the question (big no, no).
And if you really can’t determine what an RFT/P question is getting at, or you suspect it’s been left in as a mistake check out JMA’s guide Should you ask clarification questions during a tender process?
If you’re still stuck responding effectively to (unspoken) questions in tenders, bids and proposals please get in touch, JMA can help.
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Remember, nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply Albert Einstein was spot-on when he said “nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply”. Tenders, bids, proposals, and informal pitches for business are not times to show how clever and capable you are by using legalese (I’m looking at you lawyers), […]