3 Reasons Why Small Companies May Lose a Proposal

By: Martin Hicks, VP of Business Development and Proposal Manager

As a proposal manager I am constantly asked the question: What are the major reasons a small company loses a proposal bid? This question can solicit numerous responses and, let’s face it, each RFP and customer is different and a variety of items can have an effect on how a proposal is received by the customer. As we say in the business – Know Your Customer!

Put aside the obvious losing proposal problem, non-compliance, because we all know that not fully complying with an RFP’s instructions places a proposal in serious jeopardy. Let’s think about proposals that are compliant, but still lose. I have noticed a pattern of problems that greatly impact the ability of a small company to win a proposal. These include:

1. Poor Planning: Winning proposal teams begin planning for a proposal response well in advance of an RFP ever being released by the customer. This planning allows the prime to develop a strong, committed team. It then allows that team to properly vet the requirements and customer to ensure that they can write a thoughtful, persuasive proposal that meets the customer’s needs.

2. No Price to Win Strategy: Winning proposal teams do not just price a proposal, they strategically determine a price to win based on a detailed cost analysis of the project, the market, the competition, and the customer. This has become even more important in the world of lowest price technically acceptable proposal evaluations.

3. Not Backing Up Your Words: Winning proposal teams create responses to an RFP that not only address the requirement, but explain how the team will execute the requirement and then backs that up with proven, related experience.

So the next time you are going through our Bid/No-Bid decision process, think about these potential problem areas and make sure you mitigate them.