Which words kill your best proposal?

Here are some terms and language to avoid when responding to an RFP

Weak language and clichés can be the death knell for your proposal. According to Visible Thread, a company that specializes in software that analyzes word usage in documents, your bid and proposal team should know the language that weakens credibility, raises legal questions or affects the delivery of your solution.

If you are using the following words and phrases in your proposals, it might be time to call for a rewrite.

Credibility killers

Wishy-washy language to avoid:

  • "Can provide."
  • "Might provide."
  • "May deliver."
  • "We are committed."
  • "We are pleased to."
  • "Uniquely qualified."

Liability red flags

Terms that convey legal implications or suggest overcommitment:

  • "Expert."
  • "We guarantee."
  • "Seamless."
  • "Best of breed."
  • "Best practices."
  • "State of the art."

Delivery trap

Words and phrases that are difficult to verify or measure:

  • "As appropriate."
  • "As necessary."
  • "Full service."
  • "Quality focused."
  • "Top-quality."
  • "Efficiently."

Source: Visible Thread

Reader Comments

Mon, Mar 14, 2011

Keep to the simple facts and do NOT use fluff!

Mon, Mar 14, 2011 Mara Adams MA

What TO say obviously is specific to your business, but my advice would be as follows: 1. Be specific about WHAT you will do, HOW you will do it, WHY you will do it in that way, and WHEN you will deliver it. 2. Be sure to take your audience as seriously as it takes itself (i.e.,suggesting that their project is ho-hum because of your vast experience probably won't win you any points). 3. Be respectful of the COTR's responsibility to oversee the project. It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of a thorough description of exactly how you will deliver what the RFP requires on time and at a reasonable cost.

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 David

This article should help, entitled "5 quick tips to writing better proposals (RFP responses)": http://blog.confluentforms.com/2009/05/5-quick-tips-to-writing-better.html

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

Also to avoid is the use of boilerplate information, whether it is marketing materials or using RFP language in the proposal. Simply cutting and pasting into your proposal is a losing strategy, as you need to demonstrate that your solution meets or exceeds requirements. Simply stating you will do something through copying RFP language is not a viable option, and will cost you in the end.

Fri, Mar 11, 2011

Not really - these are words and phrases that writers include without thinking that can easily negatively influence the evaluators. One assumes that the writer HAS to think about what TO include . . .and has looked at the RFP!

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