Side-by-Side Competition

side_by_side_proposal_comparisonsThere’s always competition for service contracts*. You’d think contractor proposals were written with that in mind. Alas, not so often.

During an RFP process Procurement will pull responses from contractors’ proposals and place them side by side.

That’s where the comparison is really made. Side-by-side. You against your competition.

After all, customers can only choose from the proposals in front of them.

And when contractors try to “sell” themselves in the proposal they often end up removing themselves from consideration.

Customers are looking for a business case justification that tells them what they’ll get from a contractor. It’s the value proposition. But each contractor’s is slightly different, which always makes it a decision between apples and oranges.

But that’s the opportunity available for new business.

So, here are several areas for contractors to consider and/or address in their proposals. But only if they want to improve their chances of winning more contracts.

Here’s where we’re going:

  • Breadth & Depth of Service Solution
  • Specificity of Service Solution
  • Lose the Sales Speak in Proposal Writing

Breadth & Depth of Service Solution

Some customers want a wide range (breadth) of services included in their solution. They’re looking for the full service solution, one-stop-shop approach.

They’re more likely to tell you this in person before the bid (if they know you and value what your firm offers). But the RFP rarely states it explicitly. So you need to figure this out before the RFP.

Some customers care more for a deep service offering, meaning they’re looking for technical expertise, industry best practices and subject matter experts (SMEs). They’re comfortable working with specialists and will take the overall service management duties on themselves.

Their RFPs may spell out requests for deep info. Again, you need to figure this out based on their management style before the RFP comes out, because the RFP may just breeze over areas they’re serious about.

Specificity of Service Solution

A proposal is not where customers want to be sold. They want information they can make a decision on.

They’re looking for descriptions and plans detailing what they’re going to get from a contractor. Then they’re evaluating the relevancy of that proposed plan. Relevant for the money it saves them, makes their life easier, their department more productive, their company more profitable and competitive.

They’re looking for specifics.

Contractors have to present their specific plan. Based on services, processes and results that are important to that customer at their locations.

Clarity and relevancy. The higher up the customer value chart the solution goes, the more likely that contractor will be chosen. And the easier they can justify it upstairs themselves.

Lose the Sales Speak in Proposal Writing

In side-by-sides, sales speak in the writing style hurt’s contractors’ chances of persuading decision makers.

You know what sales speak is. It talks a lot but doesn’t say anything specific. It sounds like this….

We’re the leading provider of xyz service in the U.S., with the best customer retention rate in the nation and lowest employee turnover in the industry. Our employees are our greatest asset and our service is second to none. Our hiring process for your account will include…

There’s too much garbage to wade through for decision makers to find what they’re looking for. They don’t have the time, so they don’t look. They move on to some other question.

And there goes a contractor’s best offering or solution, lost in sales speak.

How do you compare side-by-side?

* If it’s not other contractors then its the inertia that keeps things the way they are. And that’s another story for another day.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

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