I once performed an audit on a cross-section of a household-name, B2B corporation’s past Expression-of-Interest (EOI) and Request-for-Proposal (RFP) responses (my standard practice when taking on a new client looking for continuous improvement rather than one-off production assistance).
The opening paragraph of one submission’s Executive Summary included “we”, “us” or (“company name”) no less than 17 times.
What’s wrong this this, is just about everything.
- Making the first few words of your proposal, your company name – especially if you go on to litter the entire introduction with reference to your own organisation – flags the fact that what your prospective client or customer is about to read, is more about you than it is about them and their specific problem.
- Similarly to the above point, it also flags the point that you see their issue entirely from your perspective.
- It’s also a red flag that you’ve done insufficient research on the prospect organisation to allow you to lead with their need, rather than your want or your boast.
- All the above being case, it hints strongly at the frustratingly self-focused, and possibly under-informed, nature of the relationship going forward, should they choose to appoint you as their supplier or service provider.
From the above points, you see clearly both the problem and the solution: Research, planning, a client-focused strategy, and a guiding blueprint.
Without these, you or those you task with writing your submissions, will sit down at an empty slate and do the thing that comes naturally: talk about YOU. But the most compelling proposals aren’t about the vendor first and foremost. They’re about the PROSPECT. All the prospect cares to know about YOU, is how you can solve THEIR problem, help them achieve THEIR goals, and bring worthwhile value to THEIR world.
And to end on a valuable insight for the Small & Medium-sized Enterprise:
The case example I have used here in this post, to demonstrate this most fundamental of flaws, is one of the best-known global corporations on the planet.
Thus, I reinforce my numerously-made point about the advantages SMEs have over their corporate competitors . . . many of whom are so enamored by their own “brand” and their readily available “cut-and-paste” marketing spiel that they literally can’t put themselves in the client’s shoes. They’re too brainwashed with their corporation’s own magnificence.