Top 10 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting Shortlisted (or “Being Invited to the Dance”)

A colleague of mine often referred to being shortlisted after submitting a Request for Proposal (RFP) package as “being invited to the dance.”

Want to increase your chances of making it to the shortlist? Here are 10 things you can do:

  • Read the RFP thoroughly, and prepare a thorough proposal outline. Oftentimes, additional proposal reviewinstructions or evaluation criteria are buried in the back of the RFP.
  •  Establish deadlines for obtaining information from team members, and stick to them.
  • Utilize graphics, charts and pictures to tell your story.
  • Photographs and graphics not only show clients examples of your work, they create interest and give readers’ eyes a rest.
  • Follow the RFP’s instructions to a “T.”  If you are instructed to label the proposal in a certain way, for instance, be sure to do so. Don’t risk being eliminated simply because you did not follow instructions.
  •  It’s not all about you. Many companies love to brag about how wonderful they are. In the end, however, clients want to know how you can help them.
  •  Utilize white space wisely.
  • Get a second (or third) set of eyes to review the proposal before you print. After working on a proposal submission, it is easy to miss grammatical mistakes or misspellings. By having a fresh set of eyes proof the document, mistakes will often “jump out” at the reviewer, whereas you might miss them.
  • Leave plenty of time for the review process and production. I recommend at least half a day or a full-day, if possible. When you rush to complete a proposal or work until the very last minute, this is when mistakes are most likely to happen (or the printer will undoubtedly fail).
  • Budget extra time to deliver the proposal.  Thirty-seconds late, especially for a government proposal submission, means instant rejection. If the proposal is being delivered via Fed Ex or UPS, be sure to check ahead of time the delivery options. Not all areas have overnight delivery, especially rural parts of the country.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always check for addenda, especially the day the proposal is due. Miss just one, and you will have missed out completely on the chance of “being invited to the dance.”

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