The harsh reality is that more often than not your proposal will not win the project during a Request for Proposals. You won't win 50% of the time, and you might not win even 25% of the time. If you don't have a thick skin when it comes to rejection you might want to consider a different business.
But if you're willing to do some introspection and take a hard look at your proposals, you might discover some insight into why you've been losing.
If you've been following our blog articles regarding Requests for Proposals you are familiar with our repeated philosophy of being selective in the RFPs you respond to as well as developing an objective means of selecting the right RFPs to respond to. If you're following the advice in these two articles, you're already on your way to establishing a foundation for performing a post-mortem on your proposal.
Do you know why you lost?Sometimes we go into a project knowing the likelihood is that we have no chance of winning. We put time into a proposal because, well, even though the chances are slim, we could pull an upset and win! Not to mention that there could be secondary benefits to us simply taking the field. But even if you think you know why you lost it is still beneficial to you in the long run to complete a RFP post-mortem because every failure is a good opportunity to learn.
There is no failure except in no longer trying.
Have you asked them?Don't be afraid to ask why another company's proposal was chosen over your own. They might not always respond or give you any real answer, but it can't hurt to ask, and the knowledge you gain might be extremely useful in future proposals. It also reiterates to the client that yes, you were very interested in the project, in more than a casual way.
Were you too expensive?We included this because, when you lose a proposal, you immediately assume you were too expensive. Don't make this assumption! For all you know you were the least expensive and that led them to disbelieve your proposal. Again, don't be afraid to ask details about the winning proposal. Ask targeted questions and you should receive targeted responses.
Even if you were more expensive than the selected proposal, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should lower your rates. In your proposal you should always be pitching the rate that you want to receive and feel your value dictates. If you lose to a lower-priced competitor, it means one of two things: either the client didn't have budget for your increased project cost, or you didn't do a good enough job of justifying your value as it related to your pricing. And if you had properly pre-qualified the lead, that leaves your proposal coming up short.