Responding to bids and tenders can sometimes feel like being in the eye of the storm. Kick-off meetings, conference calls, clarification questions and frantic, last-minute content assembly all combine to pile on the pressure while the submission deadline draws ever closer.
And while you’re keeping all these plates spinning, there’s no question that the most important thing you need to get right is your written response – messaging, win themes, clear and articulate writing, answering the questions fully and properly, persuasive and compelling reasons to choose you over your competitors.
But even with all of this nailed, there’s a chance that at least one of your competitors will also be good at this stuff, putting you right back on a level playing field. So the question is, how can you gain an edge that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives your submission more impact than anyone else in the running?
This is where you can innovate in the delivery of your bid and start to get really creative. For example, at Sales Engine we’ve supported companies with things like filming the Exec Summary and either inserting that into the document or sending it out as an Eyeful Lens. Or how about a fully interactive pdf or presentation to allow the prospect to click around to find the info they want, complete with high quality graphics and imagery? Or you could set up a highly tailored Folloze board and fill it with documents, videos, presentations and anything else relevant to the bid.
In order to do this, you need to remember the innovation window – this is the calm before the storm, the period when you know the RFP is coming, but it hasn’t yet landed. This is where you get the chance to think about all the cool, creative things you can do to really ‘wow’ the customer. In this period you have the time and space to think and plan and get things underway, because the moment the RFP lands, the window closes and it’s all hands to the pump just to get the content written and the response pulled together, reviewed, refined and, typically at the final hour, submitted.
Anyone who’s been involved in responding to RFP’s knows they often have tight turnaround times and it’s incredibly rare that everything is completed ahead of time. The final submission typically comes together at the final hour so the window to innovate and get creative is missed under the pressure of ‘just get it done’. This is a shame and a lost opportunity.
There are so many ways you can make your proposals and bids stand out from the pack, if you take advantage of the innovation window. Creative thinking can make all the difference to the way your customer perceives you, however it can also sometimes be difficult to come by – if everyone in the room has only ever seen the same types of submissions, then new ideas may be thin on the ground. So, one final thing to consider is that sometimes innovation needs to come from outside your core team. In order to inject some new perspectives and thinking into the process, why not try inviting in other departments, partner companies or anyone else who isn’t normally involved in your bid process?
Or you could simply get in touch with Sales Engine to find out how we can help you take your bids, proposals and presentations to the next level (do it now, before the window closes!).