The failure to secure money-spinning contracts by most companies started when it becomes impossible to distinguish between Request for Proposal and Expression of Interest by the personnel or team saddled with the responsibility of replying to tenders either from public or private establishment. The two are the most common approach used by establishment to hire firms for procurement and consultancy services in today’s competitive business environment. Expression of Interest is developed usually by buyers and made available to the suppliers or consultants with a view of knowing capabilities and expertise of the bidders, whereas Request for Proposal becomes the basis for the contract.
Although buyers do mingle the two in their request for tenders, a firm that is worth its salt is expected to pinpoint the difference between the two and respond appropriately. When the two are presented in a tender announcement, experience has shown that many companies don’t quite know what information to provide or what questions to ask, much less understand the best way to go about answering such .
Here are the five top factors impeding many companies in securing contracts through RFP and EOI.

Failure to provide necessary details
As it was stated earlier, the purpose of issuing RFP or EOI by buyers is to have first-hand information on the technical, managerial and financial capabilities of bidders to convincingly solve their (establishments) identified internal problems with best professional practices. In other words, they are requesting earnest explanations of how you can satisfy all of the requirements and that all specifications can be met. TMF (Technical, Managerial and Financial) is the key components usually evaluated by RFP’s buyers. Missing one of these in RFP is a ‘suicide’ mission that would throw-out bidding company from the procurement or consultancy services opportunity. These are not only expected to be included but also to be stated in clear and logical terms because the devil is truly in the details. Some of the firms we have had opportunity of reviewing their RFP or EOI failed to state staff’s technical capabilities along with their corporate strengths. They placed emphasis only on corporate ones, whereas buyers want to know how the bidding companies would solve their problems or providing strategic solutions to them by integrating individual staff’s technical competencies with corporate technical capabilities. The same goes for the expression of managerial capabilities. Buyers would not place its money in a firm which failed to identify and state managerial competencies of staffs who would be assigned for specific areas highlighted in the RFP or EOI announcement.

Failure to create response RFP and EOI strategy
In most companies, response to RFP or EOI is usually sole responsibility of a staff when it should be a collaborative work between the staffs at managerial and operational levels. Response to RFP or EOI is generally technical and takes time and valuable resources to properly produce. That is why it is ideal to assemble your team, sooner rather than later. It is the team that would determine the suitability of the firm apropos its strategic direction. In addition to this, experts said the team needs to determine firm’s competitive advantage, know the needs or issues of the buyers inside-out and whether the firm have resources and skills capable of addressing them. Like it is done in advanced business environment such as UK and US, professional Proposal Response Manager and Proposal Legal Analyst are to be hired or employed by the Nigerian firms. They are the ones who would develop a strategic response to RFP or EOI. For instance, Proposal Legal Analyst will identify any legal issues that need to be addressed in the bid (such as seeking clarification of mandatory terms and providing alternatives to negotiable terms).

Shooting the wrong targets
In the spirit of making substantial profits, many companies respond to bids, which they don’t have required technical and managerial expertise and/or capabilities to execute. They failed to realize that technical and managerial capabilities match with an RFP or EOI is a clear term that half battle of securing the contract has been won.

Questions not adequately answered
Many companies do not answer how they would accomplish buyers’ requirements. When firms do not answer this question specifically, it lessens the credibility of the bid. Answering the question specifically requires careful analysis of all RFP or EOI requirements, most importantly, scope of work and submission guidelines. One key strategy for answering all the questions is to emphasize the reason the buyers should choose your proposal instead of the competitors.

Lack of communication
RFP or EOI is issued by buyers to engage suppliers or consultants through different correspondences. A number of companies do not exploit communication platforms usually provided by the buyers before submitting their response. Calling the person in charge before submission would go a long way in finding out areas that need more clarifications. Experts have also said good communication strategy creates enviable first impression that can be leveraged on during defense of the tenders.

Are you winning your proposal bids?
It is understandable that businesses nowadays require a lot of personnel with the ability to multi-task a number of activities. Getting the required human resources is a daunting and costly task in developing country like Nigeria. That is why it is imperative to engage business advisory firm with the proven professionals in the area of strategic proposal training and development towards the winning money-spinning contracts.