This week, I’m coming to the end of a strategically significant bid process, working with a large team on a submission that has been in the making for a very long time. I will miss this delightful, talented and committed group of people very much when we hit “send” on the proposal next week. This is a consortium submission from incumbent suppliers pitching to retain a complex range of services worth tens of millions of dollars, and where dozens of people’s jobs are on the line.
Notwithstanding the bid’s complexity, the RFT response templates are — as always, it seems, these days — highly limited in what they will let us include. In one case, we have a total of three pages to cover our expertise, experience, and understanding of the service delivery need. Getting this message across within such tight word limits is extremely difficult, and we have used graphics extensively in this proposal to help overcome our space challenges.
Unfortunately lack of space in RFT responses is a trend that isn't going anywhere. (Check out my blog post "Why Buyers Are Asking For Short Proposals").
Last year I ran a short program in conjunction with Colleen Jolly of 24 Hour Company in the USA on International Best Practice in Proposal Graphics. Today, Colleen shared a link to an article written by Mike Parkinson — her colleague and the author of Billion Dollar Graphics — on the topic of Using Graphics in Page-Limited Proposals.
It seems Mike’s clients over in the USA are feeling the same pain as my team and I are feeling here. Mike says “RFPs often ask for the sun, moon, and stars in 10 pages. The challenge we face is when, where, and how do we add graphics to a 10-page proposal (that should be 40 pages to effectively answer the RFP)?”
If you’ve wondered about this yourself, check out Mike’s article where he discusses the reasons why graphics are easier to understand than text alone; why they get the point across more quickly than words; and how graphics reduce perceptions of risk.