My biometric/identity collateral wasn’t the only thing that I updated yesterday.
As part of my preparation for yesterday evening’s Ontario IDEA Exchange meeting, I took the time to update my “local” brochure. (Because local is important: see the first of my three goals for 2022.) This brochure includes a section that discusses the types and numbers of pieces that I have prepared for clients, including the number of case studies, the number of RFx responses, and so forth.
Those numbers hadn’t been updated since last September.
Before going to the meeting, I wanted to make sure my “local” brochure had the latest numbers.
I’ll go ahead and share them with you. This covers the projects that Bredemarket has completed for clients over the last 18 months, as of February 16, 2022:
Fourteen (14) case studies
Eight (8) articles (blog posts)
Three (3) service offering descriptions
Three (3) white papers
Nine (9) RFx responses
Four (4) sole source responses
Six (6) proposal templates
One (1) technical leave behind
Two (2) biometric analyses
As it turns out, I didn’t hand out my local brochure to anyone at last night’s IDEA Exchange. (It was a small crowd, most of whom I already knew.)
But at least I’ve tabulated the numbers.
Now I just have to update all of my NON local collateral…
(No, this is NOT a post about wildebeest mating rituals. If that is your interest, go here. This is a post about how businesses develop sales proposals that they send to other businesses. This process has its own rituals, but they are not studied by biologists.)
Bredemarket isn’t my first time working as a contractor.
I still remember a night in October 1994. I had been contracting for several firms, and had just started a new contracting assignment in Anaheim, in an oddly shaped triangular building. I was contracting with a company’s Proposals Department, despite the fact that I had never written a proposal before. I had once helped to write a Request for Proposal, but that RFP was pretty much just a checklist.
As a contractor, I was paid by the hour, so I didn’t mind the fact that I was asked to work extra hours that October evening. While the actual employees were feverishly working on a response to a state-issued RFP, I was tasked with writing sole source proposal letters for things I had never heard of before that day. So there I was, writing letters that explained the “Input Station 2000” and the “Latent Station 2000” and things like that.
I continued contracting after that night, and eventually became an employee of the company as a proposal writer. I spent over five years writing about Input Stations and Latent Stations and Search Processors and amazingly small Fingerprint Processor boards, and after a while I even knew what I was writing about. I still remember my joy when I mentally had an understanding of RAID.
After my five years in Proposals, I stayed with the company in another role (product manager) through two corporate acquisitions, and after the second corporate acquisition I rejoined the Proposals organization, spending another five years there. And even after I left Proposals for the second time, I continued to contribute to proposals afterwards. My flying pig did a lot of flying.
I have continued to do proposals work for Bredemarket, helping a firm develop standard proposal templates that its salespeople can use.
But Bredemarket also writes its OWN proposals, which is how Bredemarket gets some of its business.
You’ve heard the saying about eating your own dog food. That statement bored me, so I started talking about eating your own iguana food. Eventually I tired of iguanas and pivoted to wildebeests.
Whether dog, iguana, or wildebeest, you get a slightly different perspective on proposals when you’re writing them for yourself.
But only a SLIGHTLY different perspective. After all, you’re still promoting a product or service, and still communicating benefits to a potential customer. That remains true whether the proposal was written on behalf of Printrak, MorphoTrak, Bredemarket, or one of Bredemarket’s clients.
But things are still a little different when you’re proposing for yourself and your service.
For one, the approval cycle is streamlined. As part of a multinational corporation, the MorphoTrak proposal approval cycle was relatively complex, even after my boss took extreme steps to simplify it. If MorphoTrak was going to release a $20 million dollar proposal, there was a good chance that someone at MorphoTrak’s corporate parent in France was going to have a seat at the approval table.
Now I’ll admit that Bredemarket has never issued a $20 million dollar proposal. Because of this, all of the proposals that Bredemarket has issued have only required a single approver.
Even then, however, you may have to wait a day to get that proposal approved. After all, the proposal approver is a strong practitioner of the “let’s sleep on it” school, and usually comes back with revised proposal ideas a day later after sleeping on it.
For example, let’s take a recent proposal that Bredemarket submitted to a potential client. The proposal was pretty much done, but the “sleep on it” interval had to take place before it was re-examined the next morning. I incorporated my new ideas (my dreams?) into the text, and then I printed a copy of the proposal for one last review.
A few minutes later, the printed copy was filled with changes.
So I made the changes, printed the new final version, and reviewed it one more time.
And added more markups, resulting in changes.
In the end, the proposal exceeded the three review cycles common in some of my offerings. And I probably could have reviewed it one or two more times, but I wanted to get the proposal out the door.
And even as I emailed the proposal to the potential client, I realized that proposals are often iterative, and that my potential client may have some requests for changes, resulting in a proposal modification.
Or maybe more than one proposal modification.
Back when I was at MorphoTrak, I regarded a proposal modification as a sign of failure. It meant that we didn’t get it right the first time, and therefore MorphoTrak would have to spend money to issue a revised proposal, and perhaps a re-revised proposal, and perhaps more. At the time MorphoTrak appended a letter to its revised proposals – “a” for the first revision, “b” for the second revision, etc. To my knowledge MorphoTrak never issued a “z” proposal revision, but we did go fairly deep in the alphabet.
From my present perspective, I’m a little more welcoming of proposal revisions. It’s an admission that I don’t know everything about the client, although I can hazard a guess as to what the client needs.
Remember Bredemarket’s client who needed standard proposal templates? Well, my own proposal to that client went through a few revisions, even after the original contract was finally approved. There weren’t any huge overhauls in the original proposal content, but there were a few things here and there that needed to be tweaked so that both parties were satisfied.
While I’ve had some successful proposals, some of Bredemarket’s proposals to potential clients did not result in business. (Yet.) These potential clients, for various reasons, decided not to pursue business with me.
Of course, this is true of any proposals organization. No proposal team that I know of has sustained 100% success over an extended period, although I know of one team that won the majority of its competitive bids over a 2 to 3 year period.
But the wildebeest continues to hone his own proposal skills, while using what he learns to benefit future clients.
(This past illustration describes something that I performed in my career, either for a Bredemarket client, for an employer, or as a volunteer. The entity for which I performed the work, or proposed to perform the work, is not listed for confidentiality reasons.)
Companies need to respond to questions from their potential customers. Often the company crafts a specific response to each potential customer, even when multiple potential customers are asking the exact same questions.
As many people already know, the solution is to create a database of standard text.
In some cases, companies can create standard text by adapting previous text submitted to potential customers in the past. In other cases, new text must be written. Once developed, the standard text can be stored in a dedicated database designed for this purpose, or it can simply be stored in a Microsoft Word document of officially approved responses.
I have created (or tried to create) a lot of standard text over the years.
For two companies, I was one of the people responsible for gathering standard text from subject matter experts (SMEs), or for writing new standard text myself. This standard text had to be reviewed with SMEs at regular intervals, and any necessary updates had to be incorporated.
For a third company, I was the SME responsible for reviewing and updating the standard text.
For a fourth company, I suggested that the company create standard text, but the company chose not to act on my suggestion.
For a fifth company, I was asked to create a simple database of standard text, addressing multiple markets for a particular product line.
And, of course, I’ve created standard text for my own company, suitable for repurposing in multiple formats.