RFP Writing: “Only Connect”

By February 8, 2009No Comments

Famous quote from British author E. M. Forster — “only connect  . . . the prose and the  passion . . .”

It speaks volumes for RFP writing and is a key component in RFP training–how to make your written proposal more powerful by forging the link between what the prospective customer wants (the prose) and what you propose to deliver (your passion for this contract).

Often when I’m asked to review an RFP draft, it appears disconnected.  That is, the proposal writers have left a gap between the customer’s needs and the respondent’s product or service.  They’ve done a good job of stating, “This is what you are trying to accomplish.”  And they often do a good job of saying, “This is what we do.”  But they haven’t put into words the connection between “what you want” and “what we do” and/or “how we do it.”

The disconnect happens because when you’re writing an RFP response, you assume that the connection is obvious.  You undertand it so well that you’re focused on detailing your proposed plan of action rather than restating how the customer’s need = your solution.  The devil is in that “=” sign.  Just exactly why does that connection work and how will you help your new customer reap its benefits?

Test this out for yourself.  Reread one of your most recent RFP responses.  Try to point to a paragraph or section that precisely states the connection between their request and your service.

I’d love to hear what you discover–post a comment here or email me–and thanks in advance for participating.