This is part six of the Aidpreneur.com training on pipeline management for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. At this point in the training, you have taken your identified opportunity and created a solid proposal in response to the RFA, RFP, or RFQ. You’ve also carefully reviewed the proposal and packaged it for submission to your potential client. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss what, in practice, is the final section of the proposal development or pipeline lifecycle – submitting, and then tracking the success of the proposal.Once your proposal is polished, packaged and ready to go, your next move is to submit it to the potential client. As discussed back in section four of this training, how this bid is submitted – and by that I mean the process, if it’s in hard copy or soft copy, etc. – is already predetermined, and known by your proposal manager. Obviously, having a bid arrive on time is paramount, otherwise it will be disqualified. But there are a few other things to keep in mind, as well:First, if your proposal will be submitted in hard copy (even though this is becoming less and less common, it is still required by many donors and agencies) you need to budget enough time to courier and deliver the proposal. It’s been my experience that you want to give yourself a wide margin of error for this submission because anything and everything can go wrong – including people getting sick, flat tires, delayed flights, problems with customs … The list goes on and on. We always recommend, if possible, that a hardcopy proposal is hand-delivered to the prospective client and a receipt received for the submission.
Second, in cases where a client has indicated they will accept proposals “up to” a particular date, it’s in your best interest to provide an early submission. As much as we like to believe that the proposal process is fair, transparent and provides everyone an equal chance, in situations like these it’s highly likely that a very good proposal received early by the client will be accepted, and negotiations entered into well before the official close date of the tender.
Third, a final note in the case of a hard copy submission, is to, again if at all possible, attend the proposal opening meeting. While you will not learn if your proposal was selected by the client at this meeting, there is a fair amount of information that will be useful for you. This includes: assurance that your proposal was accepted by the client for consideration, the volume of proposals that were accepted (in other words the competitive universe for this tender), and, more particularly, the other individuals or organizations who have submitted proposals – this is information you should pay attention to, and carefully record to continue to better understand the competitive landscape you’re operating in.
Beyond the competitive information you’ll receive from the opening meeting, this is also opportunity for you to “put a face to a name” for yourself or your company. Again, even though this is a blind or public tendering process, one of the most powerful things in our business and in any business, is relationships. Any opportunity that you have to begin, solidify or grow relationships with a potential client are a worthy investment for yourself and for your organization.
Most of what I’ve spoken about applies to proposals that are submitted in hard copy. But increasingly, clients are accepting proposals for work via email or some other online submission platform. In these cases, it is still very much in your interest to confirm receipt of your proposal from the client. If using an online platform, this is usually provided automatically by the technology. But if you’re submitting by email, we always believe it’s a nice touch to reach out to the person responsible for the tender to ensure they have received our bid successfully.
Once you have submitted your proposal, the great waiting game begins. Over the last 10 years, I still have yet to find a pattern or formula for determining if and when proposals are considered or decisions made. Every client is different, with a different process and, one of the most important things to develop as an individual consultant or small organization in our business, is a solid constitution so that you can withstand the waiting game after submitting a proposal.
The proposal manager’s job is not complete until a final decision has been reached on the tender you’ve submitted for. As such, the manager must continue to track the submission, follow-up with the potential client and – perhaps most critically, keep everyone involved in the proposal informed of its progress, including internal staff, external consultants and partners. At ISG, this is a simple process with the online platform we’ve chosen for pipeline management (again, that is Pipedrive.com), with the ability to manage and contact everyone related to a particular proposal with just a few clicks.
Once a decision has been taken on the tender by the client, the proposal manager should note whether or not the submission was won or lost, or if some other action needs to be taken on this particular opportunity – such as modifications to the proposal, the submission of the best and final offer, the participation in a interview, etc. (we found at ISG that the tendering process is rarely a black and white proposition, making it all the more important to have someone who is paying attention to each and every proposal process).
If you’re unsuccessful with your proposal, you should record the loss, and any notes about why your proposal was unsuccessful. The more information the better, so that you can continue to refine your process in your technical submission.
If your proposal is successful, your next move will be to enter into contract negotiations with the client and then hand the proposal over to project management for delivery. These are both incredibly important processes, and we cover them in other trainings here at Aidpreneur.
As I mentioned in the beginning, in practice, this would be the end of the story for most organizations and individuals. But there’s still one critical step that you should perform on a regular basis: reviewing your progress. I’ll cover this next, in the final section of this training.
Thank you for watching this section of the Aidpreneur.com training on pipeline management for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. If you have any questions at all, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.