IN THIS CHAPTER
Paying attention to your customers’ expectations
Meeting your customers’ requirements
Being responsive to your customers’ needs
In this chapter, we turn our attention almost exclusively to reactive proposals — those you write in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP; refer to Chapter 2). You’d think an RFP response would be as simple as asking for a date: They ask; you answer. But that’s hardly the case. A lot of history, emotion, and anxiety exist between the asking and the answering.
This chapter provides strategies and techniques for responding to the varying degrees of complexity you may encounter. You discover how to avoid the pitfalls of complex and confusing customer instructions — giving you the how of your response. You also find tools to help you demonstrate that you can comply with your customers’ needs — providing the what of your response. Lastly, you discover ways to go beyond the how and what, getting to the why behind the bid and demonstrating your responsiveness beyond that of your competitors.
An RFP provides you with a formal way to discover what potential customers want, how they want it, and when they want it. You can think of an RFP as being like a prenuptial agreement. Your would-be spouse writes down everything he or she wants and you agree to all the “must-haves” as is. You may take exception to a few items on the “nice-to-haves” list ...