Better RFP Responses & Management
Good News, Bad News

Good News, Bad News

Are you the incumbent? The good news is you know how to do the work. The bad news is you know how to do the work defined by the previous RFP, which is almost never exactly the same as the work defined in this RFP. Your knowledge of the old work can make it difficult to read the new RFP and really get it.

I tell incumbent bidders that the challenge on their original bid was to get an operator into a room full of marketers. On rebids, it’s to get a marketer into a room full of operators, since most companies use the project or service-delivery team lead the re-bid.

Why do you need a marketer? For at least these three reasons:

  • To provide the proposal expertise that operators often lack, rather than conflating the ability to do the work with the ability to write about it and cost it.
  • To push technical/operational experts to bid to the RFP, rather than assuming it’s the same as the current contract.
  • To insist on citing experience and accomplishments in detail, rather than assuming the evaluators know the company and will fill in the blanks.

This article is a good summary of how to bid as an incumbent.



  1. Jim Taylor

    I once did an aptitude test that concluded I ranked somewhere about the 90th percentile in communication skills,, and somewhere under the 10th in marketing skills. .

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – I made an interviewer laugh once by responding to a “what are your strengths” question by saying that I was a good reader. (Most say they’re good writers.) But in Proposal Land, being a good reader is the first step to being able to market what you have.

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