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Questions To Ask During a Proposal Debrief

When the customer announces that an opportunity you have bid on has been awarded, you should request a debrief to provide feedback on how your proposal was evaluated. On Federal proposals, they may be required to provide one when requested. If you have lost, the feedback can help you improve your future proposals. But you should request one even when you win, and for exactly the same reason. A debrief can help you understand how the customer perceived your proposal and help you make better decisions. Keep in mind that you don't want to impose on the customer and that some customers will be concerned that you are going to protest their decision. There may be some questions that they are not comfortable answering, and you shouldn't push. If you do not intend to protest, you should make it clear to the customer that you just want feedback so that you can provide them with better proposals in the future --- it's in their interest too!

Here are some questions to consider asking during a debrief:

Basic questions:

  • Who won?
  • How many bids were received?
  • What was your overall score?
  • Was your score closer to the top or close to the bottom?
  • What was the winner's score?
  • Did the winner have the lowest price?
  • Did the winner have a higher score on the technical evaluation factors?

If price was a major factor and you lost:

  • Did you score higher or lower than the winner on technical factors?
  • Did you scope the level of effort (number of people/hours) appropriately?
  • Was the skill level of your proposed staffing too high?
  • Did the winner propose more or less staff/hours? By how much?

If you scored higher on technical factors but lost:

  • Did you lose because your higher score on technical drove up the cost?
  • If your price had been the same as the winner, would your proposal have represented the best value?

If you scored lower on technical factors:

  • How did your staffing score?
  • How did your technical understanding and approach score?
  • How did your past performance score?
  • Did you have any compliance issues?

If the incumbent won:

  • Did the incumbent score higher on the technical evaluation factors?
  • Did the incumbent score higher on experience?
  • Would a more clear statement that you would retain the incumbent staffing have improved your score?


  • How did the presentation and appearance of your proposal stack up against the competition?
  • What differentiated you from the other bids?
  • Was your proposal easy to navigate and score?
  • Was the appearance of your proposal better, worse, or about the same as your competition?
  • Did it contain any fluff or content that should have been substantiated better?
  • Is there anything the customer would recommend for you to improve?

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

PropLIBRARY is our professional tool for people who want to win RFPs like their business depends on it.

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