Request for Proposal: How to Sell to the Government

The Request for Proposal (RFP) (also known as Request for Quotation) process is a very common way for the Canadian government to procure products and services from private suppliers. The federal government has recently increased procurement opportunities for Canadian businesses, and several funding programs have shifted towards gated applications and the procurement process to ensure the best applicants are awarded.

Beyond federal or provincial procurement opportunities, companies can also look at procurement for selling to international governments and large private organizations.

With the abundance of opportunity available, businesses of all types should look at procurement contracts to diversify revenue and increase overall selling opportunities. In our experience, what stops most people from approaching procurement is a lack of knowledge and awareness of the process. While it may seem daunting, developing a proposal strategy can yield great results.

Request for Proposal: Key Steps for Securing Government Contracts

In this article we review some of the key steps in preparing your business to submit proposals and win procurement contracts. These include:

Assessing Processes

The first step is assessing your business’ readiness for submitting proposals. You should look at your existing quoting/sales proposal processes to see how you can borrow from existing materials to develop competitive and winning proposals.

  1. Look at your existing quoting process. What types of materials do you attach to a proposal? How do you describe your services? What does a typical statement of work look like for your company?
  2. What resources do you have to help build a proposal package? Do you have access to a marketing team? How can your sales team support the process?
  3. Does your existing sales process provide the flexibility to build out a detailed proposal? What changes (if any) are needed to build out a competitive RFP proposal?

Once you have a good handle on internal processes, you can begin refining them as needed to accommodate the proposal process. You may need to look at who’s involved in proposal development, what other internal resources you may need access to, and how much capacity your team has to build proposals.

Finding the Right Opportunity

Except for gated funding competitions, most federal government procurement opportunities are listed on BuyandSell and MERX. Additionally, each province and territory, municipality, and regional government has their own unique tender posting location. Spend some time exploring the breadth of opportunities and see which ones best fit your company.

From here you should set up a process to monitor RFPs that fit your company.

Because the competitions change frequently, you must keep up-to-date on all the opportunities. You can subscribe to mailing lists and set your preferences based on what types of contracts you’re interested in, set calendar reminders to review tender websites, or use another strategy that works best to keep you updated.

Building a Content Library

Once you start responding to RFPs you’ll notice a trend – a lot of the information asked in each RFP can be reused. Things like your business history and profile aren’t likely to change significantly between proposal submissions. Start keeping all your proposals documented and stored in a common location. From here, begin to build a content library.

A content library is a small repository of all proposals, and individual sections, saved as unique files.

This enables you to easily find what you’re looking for and expedite the proposal building process each time. If you use a lot of graphic elements, start saving templates, document layouts, and content pieces that can used in future proposals.

Over time you’ll find that you have a large collection of files that you can use to quickly build the next proposal. We find that this strategy is crucial to turning around a quick response to an RFP, which can be vital to submitting a competitive bid when there’s a short window of opportunity.

Request for Proposal Management and Fulfillment Support

Navigating the Request for Proposals process is a time-intensive, but worthwhile process for companies that want to sell to the government. While the tips in this blog can help your company optimize your internal processes, many companies choose to outsource RFP management and fulfillment activities to professional consultants that understand the process well. This expedites the Request for Proposals process and helps ensure you’re addressing all available opportunities.

If you’d like to discuss how to optimize the RFP process with the support of an experienced team, please contact Mentor Works for a complimentary assessment.

Request for Proposal Management and Fulfillment Services

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Rob holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Western University, and has published articles in international journals as well as given presentations throughout Canada and Portugal. His area of expertise lies in advanced manufacturing, international development, export market development, and automotive manufacturing. As a Program Manager at Mentor Works, Rob works with business owners to obtain funding to meet their growth strategies. Prior to joining Mentor Works, Rob worked extensively in various academic roles, software and ICT sales and development roles, and in quality control roles in the automotive industry.

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