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Why buyers are asking for short proposals

Like me, you are probably seeing a lot more word and page-limited tender response requests coming out from the market these days. A quick check of the tenders I worked on over the past six months revealed that more than half had page limits for responding to each criterion. On the surface it makes sense as to why this might be happening. After all, if you're a procurement officer or a buyer and you're expecting dozens or hundreds of tender responses, you would want them to be as succinct as possible so that you don't have to wade through pages and pages of unnecessary information in order to score the response. Page limiting and word limiting proposals might reduce your workload by as much as 50%.

But there's another reason why it's a good practice to ask for word and page-limited responses.

That's because buyers understand that it actually takes much more effort to write something within a tight set of limits than it does when no limits are given.

There's a famous quote by the French mathematician, physicist, and inventor Blaise Pascal, who lived in the 17th century. Pascal said, "I have made this letter longer because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

To me, that sums it up nicely. When suppliers are not limited in how much information they can provide, it's easy to just throw the kitchen sink into the bid and let the buyer sort it out. This has led to a lot of lazy, assembly line proposal writing.

Buyers know that they will get better quality responses if they force you to think about how you can make your proposal shorter. If you have less space and fewer words to get your point across, the good proposals will be better —and those that were never going to be any good anyway at least won't be as tiring or taxing to assess.