Sarah Neudorf October 15, 2021 Proposal
When responding to an RFP, read the guidelines carefully and highlight each qualifying instruction. Make a list of the requirements and check off each one as you complete it. Do not include more information than is requested unless it is absolutely vital to your submission and you have included a full explanation in your cover letter. Likewise, if you are unable to complete all sections of the RFP, include a full explanation of why certain parts are missing. Submit your proposal in its complete and finished form; piecemeal submissions create bad impressions.
The importance of packaging. Contrary to what we might like to believe, people do buy books by their covers. Neatness and eye appeal count. A proposal that is hard to handle or is not professional in appearance detracts from the presenter, his or her firm or department, and the overall plan. A few extra hours spent on making the written proposal look good can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection.
The rest of the story. Graphs, charts, line drawings, time lines, and other illustrations help convey information quickly and logically. Include them in your proposal in ways you think they would best clarify and complement the text, being careful not to separate them physically from the material to which they relate. That is, do not place illustrative items in the appendix because that encourages flipping pages back and forth as you are trying to present your case.
The first relates to the project`s overall goal. If you are clear in your written and oral presentations, your audience will know precisely what accomplishments they can expect to see upon completion of the project. The second question is a little more difficult to answer because you may wish to state incremental and final results without fully revealing your methodology and procedures. Your client or supervisor needs to know what to expect of course. But describing each and every step of your performance may be overkill and, in some cases, could actually jeopardize your winning the contract or assignment.
Similarly, if you encounter strong objections to the total cost, ask which parts of the proposal your audience thinks may be beyond its budget. Be prepared for some on-the-spot negotiations that will enable you to eliminate or make substitutions for items that are not deemed essential by your client or supervisor. Going into a proposal presentation without knowledge of alternatives is extremely disadvantageous for you and makes you appear unprepared.
Try to avoid using jargon, acronyms, and insider terms. Instead of making you sound more intelligent and knowledgeable, they can obstruct the communications process and produce a contrary effect. For example, although you feel sure your audience knows what you are talking about, there is always the chance that one member of the group reviewing your proposal may misunderstand an expression. Or perhaps he or she may simply never have heard a particular term and is reluctant to ask for clarification. Unbeknownst to you, that person may be someone who ultimately has a strong influence over whether your proposal is accepted or rejected.
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