the market relative to your capabilities.”
Now that you’ve done your homework and have the company’s ear, it’s show time. You’ll need to put together a proposal for the manager of supplier diversity and other buyers to show why you are the best person for the job (more reliable, less costly, more experienced).
According to Robert S. Frey, author of Successful Proposal Strategies for Small Businesses (Artech House, $59.95), a proposal is an offer or response to an RFP to provide a service or product. Generally, it includes a cover letter, executive summary and sections detailing your technical approach, business management, cost/price and quality assurance and health and safety plans.
Ultimately, this legal document is what determines whether you win or lose a contract. Therefore, it’s critical that your meticulously written proposal convey that you can complete the contract safely, on time and cost-effectively; according to company’s requirements and quality standards; and offer tangible benefits to the client and an innovative, solutions-oriented approach.
“Some people feel it’s it’s their right to do business with us,” says Joset Wright, vice president of procurement and property services for Ameritech in Chicago. “Don’t try to attack or shame a company into doing business with you. Understand what your product is and know about my business to know what to offer and what we need.”
Wright, who oversees $5 billion in procurement ($131.3 million with minority firms), uses the example of how one woman would send information once a week about her company as well as articles she thought would interest Wright as a “soft sell” approach that works. “She showed a willingness to be persistent and persevere,” says Wright.
If you feel in need of expert advice on how to best approach a corporation, you might want to hire a consultant like B.J. Holland. As president of BJ Concepts in Fairfax Station, Virginia, Holland provides business strategy and management sources.
“Before coming to us, many companies would go in with their capability statements and ask, ‘Do you have work for me?’” says Holland. “Most would take their capability statement and say they’d get back to them, but [their information] would go right in the trash.”
Most companies want to see how your company can augment their services or products and how a business agreement would be beneficial to both parties, says Holland. “Smaller companies need to be able to talk about market trends as well as the company’s buying patterns, laws, rules, and regulations governing procurement-this is a selling point.”
Herb Stokes, CEO of Alliance Relocation Services L.L.P., a relocation firm for corporate transferees in Chicago, has grown into a $10 million company in the past four years due in large part to having a client roster that includes the likes of Federal Express, McDonald’s Corp., United Parcel Service and Coca-Cola.
As the prime relocation service provider for Fed Ex for nearly a year, Stokes moves about 1,600 of their employees each year, totaling $5 million in revenues. To get its business, Stokes, who was formerly executive director of quality management