Being an innovator and a salesperson, I have explored the opportunities to upsell in the RFP proposals. That’s not to say that upselling doesn’t occur in the negotiation phase but including a well-designed upsell pitch in the proposal can establish your team’s competency and specialized expertise, earning pivotal points towards a contract win. This strategy can also provide the opportunity to make additional sales and protect your price position, if negotiations lean towards cost efficiency.

First, Tackle the Basics:

Creating a well-organized and articulate RFP proposal includes mastery of these basic elements:

  • Illustrate your understanding of stakeholder needs for the solution requested
  • Demonstrate that there is currently a pressing need for the solution requested in the SOW
  • Explain how failure to create and implement the solution could cause financial loss and/or create additional liability for the issuing agency. Discuss all of the

benefits that will accrue to the agency if your company is chosen to provide the solution.

• Clearly articulate (include details), the elements of the solution, and why you believe it is the best method to satisfy the SOW and the needs of the stakeholders.

Once you have a persuasive proposal outline outline that answers all SOW requirements and meets stakeholder’s needs, it’s time to focus on what you can do to increase your company’s stature and financial potential, via your response.

Secret Sauce 101

As you begin to add more detail to the description of your proposed solution, you can highlight the ways that your team, products and services are special, different, and innovative. This is your secret sauce. Consider the following:

  • What specific expertise can you and your team provide regarding the proposed solution?
  • How is your product or service different from other, similar products and services in the industry?
  • In what way does this difference create an improvement to the current design and/or delivery of the product/services?
  • What does this improvement mean to your client’s bottom line (think cost- savings, time efficiencies, enhanced data)? Your secret sauce, whether it is an efficiency, an optimization or improvement to basic design, will add more points to your score card, and possibly seal the win for the contract. But, what if your secret sauce isn’t so special, or worse, you can’t identify what makes your team and your product/service unique? Consider that producers send a description of each film or television role to agents, complete with a breakdown of the character’s physical attributes, including height, build, ethnicity, accent, and eye and hair color. Ultimately, a casting director will wind up with a room full of clones, all reading the same lines for the audition, with the hope of being chosen for the role. You can bet that the actor who wins the role has found a way to separate from the pack. The winning actor analyzed the script and created a character that was a standout. The truth is, there is something different and possibly exceptional about the products and services you provide, and it’s up to you to communicate that difference in your proposal. This is especially important if you are a newcomer to the industry and/or to

contracting with the organization that issued the RFP. If you are struggling with this concept, perhaps it’s time to think about what you do deliver, and if there is a way to innovate in order to create more of a space between you and your competitors. SWOT analysis and other tools can focus these efforts. It’s important to deliver effective products and services and keeping a continuous eye on improvement will increase business potential, including successful bids for new contracts.

The Upsell Opportunity – Enhancements

If you can propose an enhancement to the solution, you should make every effort to do so. Real “wow factors” can get lost or missed in the description of the solution (as secret sauce), so separating these features in this section will truly highlight your innovative approach. This is the space to emphasize stand-alone features that your team created to deliver products and services more quickly, efficiently or painlessly, such as proprietary mobile apps, dashboards, platforms and portals.

Regarding the description of solution enhancements, start with a concise introduction to provide a high-level explanation of features, the need for the tool, and value added to the SOW and solution. When describing the specifics of this enhancement, it’s important to communicate the development status (beta, launched, etc.), as well as the functions that make this enhancement valuable to these potential stakeholders, specifically. Be aware that in many situations, your proposal will be public record, so take caution to protect your IP and other sensitive information. You can find creative ways to detail the enhancement(s), leaving this sensitive information for the negotiation phase, or possibly the contract kick-off meeting, once necessary protections are in place.

Although providing too much detail about an enhancement may be risky, providing too little information regarding all features and benefits may cause this value-add to feel like an after-thought, turning your “wow factor,” to “wow that was a waste of time.” Although providing supporting data and graphics throughout your proposal is essential, inclusion in this section is vital. I would recommend including use cases, wireframes, and diagrams and other graphics to sell your proposed enhancement.

If the RFP does not invite respondents to propose enhancements to the solution, you may submit a question to the contract administrator regarding this issue. If an enhancement section is not allotted for the response to the RFP, you can default to inclusion of the enhancement as a secret sauce element. Remember to boast about your team’s competency and expertise regarding the implementation of enhancements, wherever they land in your proposal. Most stakeholders are weary of

potential implementation and maintenance costs of technical value-adds, so address this upfront.

Remember that if the hard work you expended for the proposal is not rewarded with a contract (and you won’t win them all), you may be asked to provide a quote for the enhancement as a stand-alone service, outside of the RFP. You may also solicit the enhancement directly to the stakeholders in some circumstances, and many organizations allow unsolicited proposals, especially for innovative products and services. At the very least, the proposal you designed has provided the opportunity to market your team’s abilities directly to buyers, and this type of exposure has benefits, as well.

Being an innovator and a salesperson, I have explored the opportunities to upsell in the RFP proposals. That’s not to say that upselling doesn’t occur in the negotiation phase but including a well-designed upsell pitch in the proposal can establish your team’s competency and specialized expertise, earning pivotal points towards a contract win. This strategy can also provide the opportunity to make additional sales and protect your price position, if negotiations lean towards cost efficiency.

First, Tackle the Basics:

Creating a well-organized and articulate RFP proposal includes mastery of these basic elements:

  • Illustrate your understanding of stakeholder needs for the solution requested
  • Demonstrate that there is currently a pressing need for the solution requested in the SOW
  • Explain how failure to create and implement the solution could cause financial loss and/or create additional liability for the issuing agency. Discuss all of the benefits that will accrue to the agency if your company is chosen to provide the solution.
  • Clearly articulate (include details), the elements of the solution, and why you believe it is the best method to satisfy the SOW and the needs of the stakeholders.

Once you have a persuasive proposal outline outline that answers all SOW requirements and meets stakeholder’s needs, it’s time to focus on what you can do to increase your company’s stature and financial potential, via your response.

Secret Sauce 101

As you begin to add more detail to the description of your proposed solution, you can highlight the ways that your team, products and services are special, different, and innovative. This is your secret sauce. Consider the following:

  • What specific expertise can you and your team provide regarding the proposed solution?
  • How is your product or service different from other, similar products and services in the industry?
  • In what way does this difference create an improvement to the current design and/or delivery of the product/services?
  • What does this improvement mean to your client’s bottom line (think cost- savings, time efficiencies, enhanced data)? Your secret sauce, whether it is an efficiency, an optimization or improvement to basic design, will add more points to your score card, and possibly seal the win for the contract. But, what if your secret sauce isn’t so special, or worse, you can’t identify what makes your team and your product/service unique? Consider that producers send a description of each film or television role to agents, complete with a breakdown of the character’s physical attributes, including height, build, ethnicity, accent, and eye and hair color. Ultimately, a casting director will wind up with a room full of clones, all reading the same lines for the audition, with the hope of being chosen for the role. You can bet that the actor who wins the role has found a way to separate from the pack. The winning actor analyzed the script and created a character that was a standout. The truth is, there is something different and possibly exceptional about the products and services you provide, and it’s up to you to communicate that difference in your proposal. This is especially important if you are a newcomer to the industry and/or to contracting with the organization that issued the RFP. If you are struggling with this concept, perhaps it’s time to think about what you do deliver, and if there is a way to innovate in order to create more of a space between you and your competitors. SWOT analysis and other tools can focus these efforts. It’s important to deliver

effective products and services and keeping a continuous eye on improvement will increase business potential, including successful bids for new contracts.

The Upsell Opportunity – Enhancements

If you can propose an enhancement to the solution, you should make every effort to do so. Real “wow factors” can get lost or missed in the description of the solution (as secret sauce), so separating these features in this section will truly highlight your innovative approach. This is the space to emphasize stand-alone features that your team created to deliver products and services more quickly, efficiently or painlessly, such as proprietary mobile apps, dashboards, platforms and portals.

Regarding the description of solution enhancements, start with a concise introduction to provide a high-level explanation of features, the need for the tool, and value added to the SOW and solution. When describing the specifics of this enhancement, it’s important to communicate the development status (beta, launched, etc.), as well as the functions that make this enhancement valuable to these potential stakeholders, specifically. Be aware that in many situations, your proposal will be public record, so take caution to protect your IP and other sensitive information. You can find creative ways to detail the enhancement(s), leaving this sensitive information for the negotiation phase, or possibly the contract kick-off meeting, once necessary protections are in place.

Although providing too much detail about an enhancement may be risky, providing too little information regarding all features and benefits may cause this value-add to feel like an after-thought, turning your “wow factor,” to “wow that was a waste of time.” Although providing supporting data and graphics throughout your proposal is essential, inclusion in this section is vital. I would recommend including use cases, wireframes, and diagrams and other graphics to sell your proposed enhancement.

If the RFP does not invite respondents to propose enhancements to the solution, you may submit a question to the contract administrator regarding this issue. If an enhancement section is not allotted for the response to the RFP, you can default to inclusion of the enhancement as a secret sauce element. Remember to boast about your team’s competency and expertise regarding the implementation of enhancements, wherever they land in your proposal. Most stakeholders are weary of potential implementation and maintenance costs of technical value-adds, so address this upfront.

Remember that if the hard work you expended for the proposal is not rewarded with a contract (and you won’t win them all), you may be asked to provide a quote for the

enhancement as a stand-alone service, outside of the RFP. You may also solicit the enhancement directly to the stakeholders in some circumstances, and many organizations allow unsolicited proposals, especially for innovative products and services. At the very least, the proposal you designed has provided the opportunity to market your team’s abilities directly to buyers, and this type of exposure has benefits, as well.