An RFP request generally comes in via:
- A direct request from a client by email or via a client’s panel portal;
- An open market tender opportunity via a tender portal i.e. Tenderlink;
- Through a third party such as an industry connection to go into their pitch (JV or joint bid).
Importantly, do not sit idly waiting for an RFP to drop. You need to start planning, preparing, and having conversations now.
Set out below are some key considerations to get your house in order and be bid-ready.
Understand the projects you want – the qualification stage
When winning work, it always pays to target rather than use a scattergun approach. Draw up a list of the projects where you will have the best capability in delivering, and that you most want to work on. If you know any are likely to be awarded to one of your competitors who are already well placed, remove that one from your list. Prioritise them, so that you pre-position and put the effort into the ones you most want to win.
Objectively assess the time and effort that will be required to put in a response and your available resources. Ask yourself – do you have the appropriate number of people with the right skill set?
If you require additional resources (business development, copywriter, finance, graphic designer), reach out to your HR team to help call in resources from across your organisation or seek assistance from external recruiters who can discuss your requirements and suggest resourcing solutions or go directly to an external consultant.
Pre-position for opportunities and projects
Research will help to clarify the stage where the opportunity or project you want to win currently stands. Understand what needs to be done on day 1 to get it moving forward straight away. After all, that is key to the private and public sectors. Speak to your contacts and those in your network and draw up a clear picture of who the key decision-makers will be in awarding the contract.
Ahead of the RFP being issued, go and meet them. Ask lots of open-ended questions and find out what their key drivers are. Share information and stories from previous work you have done that is relevant and will help them get their project started. By the end of these meetings, you should know who you need to write your RFP responses to, and what two or three things are most important to them.
Get your bid documentation in order
Now is a great time (for you and your teams) to really look at your proposals library and review what you have previously submitted. Review previous scores and feedback you have received, and then start updating the information accordingly. Many RFPs will ask for similar information, which means you can prepare the base document for it now. Look at it with a critical lens and seek to improve it.
Also, articulating the story of how your teams live and breathe corporate social responsibility with clear examples and pictures/diagrams/infographics is compelling and will score highly.
Get your team lined up
This is important for both the key people who will be delivering the project, as well as the ones who will be writing the bid response. In many cases, these will be the same people. However, the quicker you have your team lined up, the better. The easier it will be to mobilise them when a fast turnaround is required. It is highly likely that while there has been a delay in these projects coming to market, when they do come out, they will most likely have a short turnaround time. If you do need to use external providers, get them lined up now and have back-up options in case someone else gets to your preferred option first.
Clearly, the delays due to the COVID-l9 lockdowns have made resourcing challenging in many sectors, construction for example has been particularly challenging. For many, the uncertainty has understandably meant there is a lot to be done. The focus has been on your own business operations. However, when lockdowns are lifted and life returns to some semblance of normality, you will want to be ready to capitalise fully.
About the author
Elizabeth Petersen has over 20 years of B2B marketing and business development experience, gained in Australia and Greater China while working in senior roles in top-tier law firms.
In May 2021, Elizabeth joined The BD Ladder as an Associate and is based in Sydney, Australia. She offers practical, tailored and result-focused advice.
Refer to the BD Ladder website for additional articles relating to bids including: