Timing is everything in pursuit of major service contracts.
Sales reps (as bidders) typically wait for the RFP to be released to begin their proposal work.
Typical Bidder’s Proposal Work to Procurement’s Timeline
However, sales reps are better served if they “Stand in the future and look backwards.” Doing this presents them with a more far-sighted, proactive approach.
It’s about understanding customers’ Procurement timing relative to the contract’s termination date.
By starting with the date the contract ends and looking backwards, it’s clear that windows for sales’ (bidders) work are tight.
The image above is a rough approximation of Procurement milestones for large contracts (Yes, there’s lots of variety, but hey, it’s an approximation).
Think about it, typically two weeks from RFP release to when bidders’ proposals are due. And there’s lots to do during that limited window. Under these typical milestones:
- Sales reps are busy with site tours
- Legal departments are reviewing contracts’ terms & conditions
- Solution design departments are calculating pricing, which then must be approved by senior execs
- Proposal departments are cutting & pasting like crazy to meet the deadline & avoid being non-compliant
RFPs, when they are released, only provide scale and scope that drives pricing development.
Front-Loaded Proposal Work to Procurement’s Timeline
There’s a better way.
Sales reps (as bidders) can proactively work Procurement’s timeline by adding the winning work before the RFP is out.
Because proposals are the only time a large contract can be “sold,” they require emotionally engaging narratives and intellectually compelling solutions.
Customers with large contracts have different proposal needs than when buying smaller contracts (more here: “Hierarchy of Proposal Persuasiveness“).
This means bidders must first analyze customers’ decision makers, their departmental success, their firm’s business and industry, and lastly the competitors also pursuing that large contract.
Only then can bidders truly design compelling solutions that provide the basis for engaging proposal narratives.
This is the winning work that sales reps only have time to do before the time crunch of a released RFP.
Destination First for Major Pursuits
The RFP process is the destination for a large service contract sale. This is the one chance to “sell.”
This means the sales proposal is the most important point in the journey. And it can be made better by doing the right work at the right time.