The Ultimate Guide to Proposal Building

Chapter 2 : Customer Analysis

1. Traits of a Winning Proposal
A winning proposal is both compliant and responsive, both equally crucial qualities.

1.1. Compliance:

  • Compliance is the act of meeting stated customer requirements.
  • A compliant proposal meets the customer’s requirements and submittal instructions, answers the customer’s questions, and addresses specifications to the letter—nothing more, nothing less.

1.2. Responsiveness:

  • Responsive proposals address customer goals, underlying concerns, and key customer issues and values that might not be spelled out in the solicitation.
  • Responsive proposals help customers achieve their business goals, not just their projects or procurement goals.

1.3. Best Practices

  • Begin to cultivate responsiveness long before RFP release.
  • Thoroughly review and clearly understand the customer’s bid request.
  • Prepare a comprehensive compliance matrix for every bid request.
  • Submit a response matrix with your proposal
  • Maintain a customer focus.

Tools: Compliance Matrix, Executive summary

2. Customer Analysis and Competitive Intelligence

  • Applying customer analysis and competitive intelligence requires researching what your customers need and what your competitors can offer.
  • Customer and competitive intelligence is a key part of opportunity planning.

2.1. Best Practices

2.1.1 Understand the importance of customer and competitive intelligence.

Competitive intelligence

  • Objectively understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and strategies of companies competing against your company for business.

2.1.2 Foster information sharing among all members of your extended organization.

2.1.3 Leverage public sources of customer analysis and competitive intelligence data.

  • Public sources of customer analysis and competitive intelligence data are numerous and include both primary and secondary research.
  • The following Table 2.1 lists common data sources that may complement other sources unique to your company and industry.
DATA SOURCES CUSTOMER ANALYSIS DATA SOURCES COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE DATA SOURCES
Employees: colleagues, sales/marketing teams, and any other employees, regardless of their role in your company
SMEs engaged by your company
Customers’ websites
Competitors’ websites
Trade/industry association websites
Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
Publicly available information: government agency reports, industry/trade publications, webinars
Trade shows/conferences
Annual reports, analysts’ reports, and other SEC reports
Subscription services: OneSource, Hoovers, Dun & Bradstreet, GovWin, Gartner, PWC, etc.

Table 2.1

2.1.4 Use a bidder comparison matrix to identify your key competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

  • Competitive intelligence provides the data needed to drive objectivity in developing your company’s strategy and approach.

Tool : Bidder Comparison Matrix

3. Common Pitfalls and Misconceptions

  1. Belief that competitive intelligence data collection is a covert activity
  2. Difficulty obtaining competitive intelligence data