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8 Tips to Forecast Win Strategy for Business Proposals

You’ve received an RFP, perhaps even a government RFP. With your team you compile and write the business proposal and submit it before the deadline. After all that effort, what is your chance of winning? How can you improve your chance of winning the deal? If you knew that, would you choose to focus more, or even only, on the RFP responses that you have the greatest possibility of winning? Let’s look at the key ways you can improve your strategy for forecasting proposal wins. 

| How to Improve Win Strategy for Government Contract Proposals

Questions to ask before responding to an RFP

Have you won a similar RFP?

Often considered a leading factor is whether or not you have previously won business through an RFP response before for a very similar solution. This provides a solid foundation of existing questions and responses to review for your new RFP response, like a case study, because you have delivered before.

What is the source of the RFP?

Consider the source of the business requirements document. Is it from an existing customer or existing prospect that is engaged with the sales or solutions teams? You are significantly more likely to win business in this case than you would from a cold prospect, for which your invitation may just be making up the required numbers. 

You normally have to be on an approved supplier list or framework to respond to a government request for proposal and have a winning chance. Are you on the right list? It is worth checking before responding.

What are the engagement levels?

Is the issuer of the RFP prepared to review the RFP with you in a meeting to ensure alignment and understanding early in the process? Are you engaging with procurement or with a business leader? While some RFP processes encourage engagement with suppliers, many do not. The level of engagement can be a good indication of your likelihood of winning the deal. Engaging just with procurement early in the process may mean that you are involved in a feature and function battle with your competitors where only the lowest price will win. Engagement with a business leader is usually always taken to be a positive. 

Does the language reveal favoritism?

Carefully review the language used in the RFP. Is it using terminology favored by any of your competitors? If so, then maybe the RFP is just following protocol and there is already a favored vendor.

Got a proven solution, or something new?

If your business proposal has to describe a completely new or unproven product or solution, or is a slight variation on what you have delivered before, is it realistic to expect to win? Why will you win over the competition? An analysis of previous RFPs and your business proposals should provide an indication of how much of the new RFP you could already answer.

Is time on your side?

Every proposal team has experienced the last-minute request to respond to an RFP. We all know that it takes time and resources, with a significant amount of coordination and proposal collaboration, to compile a business proposal. Being invited to respond at short notice often indicates that a winner has already been determined but the issuer is compelled to go through the motions and release a bid to all vendors that wish to respond. 

Could too much participation slow down the forecasting process?

Is your process being hampered by “too many cooks in the kitchen?” While leveraging cross-functional expertise is necessary, sometimes there’s such a thing as too much help. Having too many stakeholders involved in reviewing RFPs lends itself to multiple interpretations and a lack of consensus on the final decision. And don’t forget: the more you delay a decision, the less time you have to put together a compelling and complete response. One recommendation is to limit participation to a core group of experts, gather the team for a meeting and review the RFP together to ensure a uniform determination of bid viability. 

Can automation help teams determine the likelihood of winning?

While tracking past wins and losses and understanding the RFP source are great tools for boosting your forecasting strategy, many teams are turning to automation to complement existing processes. After all, RFP automation tools are great for tracking wins and losses, managing metrics, adding transparency to workflows, improving collaboration and coordination, and reducing RFP turnaround times. 

These RFP proposal tools can also improve your forecast win strategy with these two extra capabilities:

  • Automation and AI

A database of RFP questions and approved responses is an invaluable tool for proposal teams to perform at their best. Maintaining this database is critical but ensuring that conflicts and inconsistencies do not arise and keeping content fresh can be a tedious task. RFP software automates this process as much as possible.

Automation helps provide granular insight into why a proposal was won or lost, which includes examining questions and responses, and even individual sentences and paragraphs. By automatically maintaining a database of RFPs, these automated systems can establish which of your proposals have been the most successful, then automatically recommend copy for questions from new RFPs.

These systems improve over time and can also suggest the order in which RFPs should be responded to. Suggestions are based on the likelihood of winning due to historical factors and can automatically populate an RFP response with answers.

  • Metrics and KPIs

RFP proposal tools automatically track metrics for your proposal team and executives. RFP process metrics include: average response times, number of collaborators, time spent by different members of the team and RFP response successes. There are also content management metrics for your question-and-answer database, like percentage of questions with approved answers, age of responses, review dates, which answers have been most successful, and what has been used most. With these metrics the proposal team can identify areas for improvement and track them over time to drive more wins. 

Final thought

There are many factors that go into establishing a good win forecasting strategy, from establishing metrics at the beginning of the go-no-go decision process and engaging the right group of subject matter experts, to utilizing software automation tools to facilitate content management and response analysis.

Gathering as much intelligence as possible about the company; their goals, problems, budget, contract length and expectations is equally important. Many times, this can be accomplished via a pre-bid conference, Q&A session, or simple phone call to the procurement manager. This, of course, is made easier if a relationship has already been established with the sales executive. 

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