When determining what a Public, Quasi-Public or Private entity actually wants, it is important to first determine why they issued an RFP to begin with. Essentially, an RFP is the result of some need within the purchasing agency or within the resident taxpayers. This need, or pain, is spelled out in the project scope and is usually what determines the needed deliverables are, what the price point will be, and what the details of the project boil down to. These needs may be something simple that can easily be squared away, or may be a project that requires extensive work and follow-up. When all is said and done though, these entities want a solution to their need, and for the ‘pain point’ to be diminished.
Purchasing entities want for you to address the RFP first. It is highly important to be compliant and to make sure that you address the basic requirements set forth by the purchasing entity. We also encourage those within the government contracting space to carefully consider if this opportunity or particular RFP is a good fit. Submitting a proposal for a project that is ultimately above your scope of work, or that you don’t have the current resources for will only result in wasted time.
When reviewing an RFP, government agencies are going to ask themselves the same questions that any hiring manager would: ‘Do they align with what we requested? Can they adequately provide the service we asked? Did they follow the directions laid out in the RFP?’ What they want is for someone who followed the directions, is on the same page about what the expectations for the project are, and can consistently follow through.
While we laid out the fundamentals of what government entities do want, there are also a number of things that they don’t prefer. This is what government entities do not want:
- A pre-RFP proposal with fully fleshed out approaches, methodologies, pricing, etc.
Though it may be tempting to stand-out with in-depth explanations and methodologies in the pre-RFP process, these details should ultimately be saved for the actual RFP. Rather, you should use the time prior to the RFP to develop a relationship with the purchasing agent and to familiarize yourself with their needs and ‘pain points’. Purchasing agencies are not necessarily looking to read through extensive pre-proposals at this time.
- Vague promises, boilerplate commitments, and a “nationwide capacity” when a lower overhead or smaller local team would suffice.
Fluffer language can be a big deterrent. In your proposal, we advise against vague language that sounds impressive initially, but doesn’t actually attest to the value of your services. Rather, try to use clear and concise language that adds detail to the quality of your work. Intangible promises can result in a loss of the RFP.
- Five different phone numbers when one contact would make communication more expedient during the pre-contract phase.
Usually, one contact’s phone number is preferred. Five different phone numbers, three email addresses and unclear mailing addresses can cause confusion among the purchasing entity.
- Hundreds of pages of marketing materials, brochures, and other filler content. Make every piece of communication essential.
While it may seem more impressive to purchasing entities to submit hundreds of pages of marketing material, brochures or other promotional content, this actually makes it much more difficult for the government entity to actually determine your capabilities and what you are proposing. Instead every piece of communication should be concise and considered essential.