Problem/Solution—How do we prove we are customer focused?


Problem: We claim we’re customer focused, but how do we prove that to the customer?  

Everyone claims that they are customer focused. But there is a difference between words and actions. How do you show the customer you listen and value their needs? When you respond to a customer RFP, demonstrate customer focus by weaving benefits throughout your proposal.   

Solution: Incorporate elements of customer focus at all levels of the proposal, from sentence construction to overall compliance to the RFP.  

You can add customer focus to the most basic elements of your proposal. Start with your sentence and paragraph constructions. If you scan the opening sentences of each paragraph, do you see words like “we” or “our”? Revise these so the customer is named first. Consider the following examples:  

Seller-focused example: 

Jenair (seller) is offering 20 Endeavor drones for $25,500 each, less than one-half the cost of a 3/4-ton four-wheel drive truck. This can reduce the cost of forest management.  

Customer-focused example: 

Cascadia Timber (customer) can reduce the cost of forest management by purchasing 20 Endeavor drones from Jenair for $250.500 each, less than one-half the cost of 3/4 -ton 4-wheel drive trucks.  

There is a clear difference between the two. The customer-focused one stresses the benefits to the customer before even naming the feature.   

Link customer benefits to features. Customers given long lists of features that aren’t linked to benefits often resort to looking for the lowest price. Naming the customer first and linking benefits to features demonstrates in your proposal that the customer is your priority.  

Finally, make sure your proposal is compliant to the RFP. How can you claim customer focus if you don’t adhere to RFP instructions? Do exactly what the customer asks when you get to the proposal stage. Once you have done that, take your proposal a step further and focus on responsiveness—addressing the customer’s underlying needs. Proposals that are both compliant and responsive win more.  

Demonstrate your customer focus by adhering to the RFP and showing you know the customer. Naming the customer first, tying benefits to features, and addressing their underlying needs all are tangible ways to increase the customer focus in a proposal. While these are simple principles mostly addressed in individual sentences and paragraphs, the customer will recognize that you considered them at every stage of proposal development.