You have been tracking a particular job for a year and the request for proposal is finally out. It’s time to dive in…immediately. Don’t wait, don’t set it aside, assess your game plan. It is common to forget the amount of work it takes to compose a proposal. Waiting to close to the submission deadline to begin creates chaos for all of those involved and results in a dull submission, void of articulation to the project at hand and often, full of canned responses.

Creating a response to an RFP may take a total of thirty hours; however, it should be viewed as thirty hours over the course of the time elapsed from the RFP issue date to the due date.  Waiting till the week ahead, or even worse, a few days out, is stressful and the proposal has had no time to breathe. Spacing the work out allows for reflection and opportunity to improve the proposal as ideas come to mind. If you wait till the last minute and you are stuck with your initial thoughts.

Proper time management begins with reviewing important dates. A question-and-answer deadline is usually established in the RFP timeline. Waiting to review an RFP might cause you to be too late to ask questions that directly influence your response. It is not just the program schedule or scope of services that might be unclear; there can also be confusing language in the submittal requirements – sometimes even the deadline date! Establish a production timeline; when do you need the finished product in hand to ensure it gets to the client on time? Remember to take into account that clients in rural areas have limited delivery service.

Next, create a hierarchy of items that need to be addressed in order to create a logical work flow. What information needs to be gathered first in order to keep things rolling smoothly? For example, finalize the list of relevant project experience first so your response weaves in appropriate examples of similar work. Establishing the team is another time-critical element. Without knowing who the team players are, how can you craft copy that sells the professionals you are asking the client to hire? If the RFP has asked a question about safe construction site management, customize your response by pointing out that the project manager is OSHA-30 Hour certified or the like.

Proposals serve as the first impression of your work quality. If the copy is filled with easy-to-catch grammar errors, is hard- to-follow, or lacks attention to detail, the client might be left scratching their heads, wondering if this is the level of service they will receive in hiring you. Do not skip the process of proofing; it can lead to disaster, at worst, having your proposal thrown out for noncompliance because you forgot a required element.

If you care enough about a project to submit a proposal, give it the time it deserves. Make the investment of your resources count. Communicate to the client that you are engaged and committed by presenting a thoughtful, memorable proposal.

Guest Blog by Kristen Hodel ~ Hodel Marketing