There are times when we have earned the opportunity to help our customer write the bid specs for an upcoming RFP. Now we're in the driver's seat and we need to identify the specs that most improve our likelihood of winning.
We should think back to situations where we have been in the opposite position, responding to an RFP where a competitor wrote the specs. How did we feel when we read the specs? Were we demoralized and questioning our chances of winning? If so, our competitor did a good job.
In order to write these specs accordingly, consider these two questions:
What do we do that is recognized as superior to our competitors? Maybe it's a proprietary technology, a one-of-a-kind capability and/or a unique manufacturing process.
What are our competitor's weaknesses as compared to our capabilities? Perhaps they have no on-site support people in an emerging market, their proprietary technology won't allow them to interface with a legacy system, and/or they lack a specific quality certification.
In one of our own IMPAX examples, we helped make sure a client's RFP required hands-on coaching support, a key strength of ours and a critical element of the solution in the customer's eyes. Our competitors were traditional training companies who didn't have this capability. This example actually addressed both of the questions above.
The answers to these two questions will help us to set traps in the RFP that will have our competitors wondering if they should even bother responding. If that is how they are feeling, then even if they respond they may well give it a half-hearted effort. This is exactly what we want, and it sets us up for success.