What to focus on when planning proposal reviews

Some things are vital for proposal reviews to be consistently effective, and other things depend on your circumstances. People mix them up all the time because they're focused on their circumstances. They're so focused on how they’re going to get the proposal done that they overlook that what they review is more important than how they review it. Changing your focus to what really matters means changing your whole approach.

You can let your circumstances and judgment determine:

  • How many reviews you have
  • How many people are involved in the reviews
  • Whether the reviews are conducted in person or remotely
  • When the reviews are conducted

If you put all your attention into the items above, and then leave it up to the reviewers to figure out what to focus on, you’ve got things backwards. What you focus on in a proposal review should be determined by what it will take to win. You review to validate that the proposal reflects what it will take to win and not just to get some opinions about the proposal. What you look at to provide this validation is far more important than the decisions you make on the items above.

What it will take to win is discovered by converting what you know about the customer, opportunity, competitive environment, and your own company into bid strategies. These should in turn be converted into review criteria.

A lot of people want to spend all their time writing, and just hand the document off to someone for a review. But figuring out the review criteria is part of figuring out what you should write. If you convert what it will take to win into review criteria and give it to those proposal writers, then the writers and the reviewers have the same goals and those goals are far more likely to be achieved.

We call this Proposal Quality Validation and it’s part of the MustWin Process that comes with PropLIBRARY. We define proposal quality based on what it will take to win, then we validate that the proposal reflects those criteria. We are far less concerned with how many reviews, how many reviewers, when the reviews are, or how they are conducted than we are with what criteria they use to perform the reviews. Once the review criteria are identified, people can parse them out to different people at different times based on our judgment and the circumstances of the bid.

Proposal Quality Validation changes how you approach proposal writing, regardless of whether you have a large team of writers, or it’s just your. Instead of writing, reviewing, and rewriting until you stumble across something that’s good enough to submit and hoping that you discover it before you run out of time, with Proposal Quality Validation you have to think through what it will take to win before you start writing. The good news is that you can write much more quickly (and better) when you know how it’s supposed to turn out.

Within the MustWin Process Library we provide the forms, sample criteria, and instructions to implement this approach to reviewing proposals.



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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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