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Customer reaction proposal checklist and test

It's never a good idea to submit a proposal that you wouldn't accept if a vendor sent the same thing to you

This checklist is a companion to an article we wrote describing 30 reactions the customer might have to your proposal that could result in your losing. That article provides hints for what you should say in your proposals and how you should say it. We created this item to make it easier to use as a checklist or a test, so you can see whether you'd accept your own proposal.

  1. Have you actually made contact and had a conversation with the customer?
  2. Does your proposal rely solely on experience as your differentiator and reason for the customer to accept your proposal?
  3. Does your proposal claim or describe your experience without saying how the customer will benefit as a result of your having it? 
  4. Do you only talk about or describe yourself or do you talk about how your qualifications and approaches will result in something better for the customer?
  5. There is a fine line between saying that incumbency is an advantage and insulting the customer by saying they can't live without you. Have you crossed it?
  6. Do you have unsubstantiated claims that could destroy your credibility and trustworthiness? Is your trustworthiness proven or claimed?
  7. Are you offering your commitment to produce results or are you offering results?
  8. Do you talk about your own values and mission or do you talk about helping the customer fulfill their goals?
  9. Have you gone beyond restating what the RFP says about the customer's mission? Have you shown how you'll fulfill the customer's actual goals and needs?
  10. Have you patronized the customer by telling them what their needs are or have you made fulfilling those needs the result of what you'll do or deliver?
  11. Do you simply state that you understand the customer or do you demonstrate that you understand with an approach and result that reflects the customer's preferences?
  12. Have you followed the instructions in the RFP?
  13. Do you use the customer's terminology or your own? 
  14. Does your proposal reflect a vision that the customer shares, and is exciting and feasible? 
  15. Does your proposal conform to their decision making process, support it, and make it easy for the customer to move forward? 
  16. Have you demonstrated why what you propose is the customer's best alternative?
  17. Does what you promise or propose match what it says in the contract? 
  18. Is what it says in the proposal completely separate from what your fulfilment staff actually do? Will your staff deliver as promised? 
  19. Does the proposal offer approaches or results achieved through your approaches?
  20. Are your approaches generic and could apply to any project, or do they talk specifically about how they would be applied to the customer? Does it sound like you just recycled the text?
  21. Is what you're sending really a proposal or is it a brochure?
  22. Are you just sending a contract? Will this offend the customer? 
  23. Does your proposal show what you'll be like to work with? 
  24. Does your proposal contain descriptions or insight? Have you proposed something the customer could figure out by themselves? 
  25. Does your pricing account for everything it should as well as everything you've promised?
  26. Can the customer afford what you are proposing?
  27. Will the proposal trigger questions that lead to negotiations?
  28. Does the RFP describe what the customer really wants? Can you give them a way to get what they really want while still complying with the RFP?
  29. The customer is more than one person. Have you talked to multiple stakeholders? Do their headquarters, the field offices, department heads, and end users all have different agendas and preferences? Who does the proposal talk to?
  30. Will the customer accept it only because they have to accept something? How will they feel about that? Have you offered them something compelling that will make them excited to accept the proposal?


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