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Simulating Client Evaluations For RFP Compliance and Strategy

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Cheryl Smith



3 min

Would you award us the bid? At each step in the reviewing process your internal reviewers should be answering this question. The purpose of reviewing a proposal is to check the response across different types of professionals at different stages in the writing process to make certain you are clearly answering the question in the eyes of the evaluators, are in complete RFP compliance and are highly likely to win the bid. 

Reviewer Direction

Directing your reviewers' attention at each stage will help to optimize the review process so you can get what you need from it. For example, in the first (often "Pink") review phase communicate to your team that you aren't looking for grammatical or spelling errors. Issues like that will be fixed later. Instead, direct their attention to higher-level issues. Have them focus their insights in this review to the overall approach and direction of the proposal, ensuring it maps to the win theme and strategy, that it doesn't have any major gaps, and that it is generally in the scope of compliance.

To further direct your reviewers, give them direct access to the RFP compliance matrix and make sure they read and understand it before they start reviewing the proposal. Putting the outlined compliance requirements before the proposal content will ensure that they are looking for the right compliance items and checking them off as they read. Software tools exist that approximate the customer review process, especially that of Government Source Selection committees, and these can be very effective at this stage.

Fresh Eyes

A reviewer should never be someone who has written on the proposal. A fresh eye for reviewing is necessary to gain objective insights on how to improve your proposal with clear perspective and without personal bias. Likewise, involving a range of reviewers will ensure you meet all RFP compliance and business goals. Each reviewer will bring their expertise to the proposal, making it stronger and answering the integral question: would you award us this bid? question. For example, involving senior management will ensure the proposal is using a clear and winning approach and not heading down a rabbit hole of wordy pages, or hedging on the solution in a way the customer cannot understand. Subject matter experts will tell you whether your terminology is correct and accurate. Project Managers can look at the resumes and speak to the qualifications listed, ensuring they are compliant, with matching experience to the requirement. They can also suggest a different hire if necessary or hunt down the information that will make a resume compliant and compelling.

It is also important to have people reading and reviewing internally that aren't necessarily experts in the field at all. You can never be sure that the official reviewer reading your proposal will be technically versed in the subject. They need to be able to understand the information, regardless. So avoid tech jargon, make it readable and edit for clarity.

Splitting up the sections of your proposal in the review process is also a beneficial approach. Often, official government reviewers split up the sections and have different people to review them. Using this tactic in the internal review stage will prepare your proposal for this step. You must ask, does each section make sense on its own? Fresh eyes will make this clear. Consider using available software tools to review your proposal like your customer will. In addition, reviewers are more likely to offer engaged and meaningful edits and suggestions when the page count they're responsible for is shorter and broken up.

Get Started

When you have a clear process in place and effectively communicate with your reviewers the approach they should take, you will get the most out of the internal evaluation process and ultimately bring clarity and brevity to the strategy. Your proposal will be more likely to be compliant when reviewed by a range of professionals, and will give you more confidence when submitting your proposal to the customer. Utilizing a solution that leverages real-time automated review tools to streamline communication between diverse, and likely geographically separated teams in the process will help reduce duplicate effort, reduce frustration, and, ultimately, increase your win rate.

Related article: What Your Proposal May Be Telling Evaluators About You

Ultimate Proposal Checklist

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Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith is our Senior Content Writer. She has additionally been writing and managing proposals since 1998. Shipley trained, she has helped establish proposal centers and advised on capture strategy, coached orals teams and lead marketing, communications and knowledge management programs. Cheryl is a graduate of The George Washington University with degrees in Theatre, Communications and Literature. When she’s not sharing her passion for work, she loves drawing, writing, cooking and exploring the Virginia woodlands with her husband, their dog Chase and the fuzzy guests they host for Rover.

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