9 sources of inspiration for the points you need to make in your proposals

You need to make a point. But what should it be?

Each and every sentence in your proposal should make a point. It should not simply describe. It should not make unsubstantiated claims of greatness. While providing the information the customer needs, every sentence should make a point that proves you are the customer’s best alternative. 

But what points should you make?

When you are answering an RFP requirement, what is it you should add to make your point?

To help you find inspiration, here’s a list of the points you might make:

  1. Points that maximize your evaluation score. When the customer includes their evaluation criteria in the RFP, you should make your points in a way that relates to those criteria. Instead of picking your rationale out of the blue, look to the evaluation criteria for what points you need to make.
  2. Points that show why you are the best alternative. If the customer has to choose between competing proposals or alternatives, you should help them discover the reasons why they should pick your proposal over the alternatives.  The best way to do this is to think about the decision they have to make and in everything you write link your response to a point that helps them make it.
  3. Points that explain your differentiators. People decide amongst alternatives by looking for the differences, both good and bad. Everything you write should make a point that highlights these differences. If what you are writing is the same as what everyone else might write, you should try harder to make points that highlight what’s special, or what the customer gets out of what you are writing about.
  4. Points that prove your credibility. Unsubstantiated claims destroy credibility. Rational points increase your credibility. Instead of just saying what you propose, try explaining why what you propose will deliver the desired results. 
  5. Points that show how you'll fulfill the customer's wants, needs, goals, and aspirations. Don’t just respond to what the customer has asked for. Explain how your approach to delivering what they want will result in them achieving their goals. What you offer is the realization of their goals and not just giving them what they asked for. Every competitor will be offering that.
  6. Points about the effectiveness and value of your offering. What makes what you are offering effective? What makes it a better value? Don’t just claim to be the best alternative or value and weaken your credibility. Increase your credibility by explaining what makes your offering the most effective and the best value. These are the reasons the customer needs to see your proposal as their best alternative.
  7. Points about what matters. Details are boring. It’s what matters about those details that’s interesting. Making points about what matters makes your proposal more meaningful. This increases your credibility. It’s also a good way to get the customer to compare everyone else’s proposal to yours, assessing whether they recognize what matters or not as well as you do. 
  8. Points that prove you can anticipate and manage the risks. Risks matter. But it’s not the risks themselves that a customer wants to see. It’s how your approach mitigates those risks. So making points about the problems your approach anticipates and prevents adds value.
  9. Points that prove the customer will get what you're promising. You are just a vendor. A sales person. Your proposal is a collection of promises. And if your proposal starts off with unsubstantiated claims you’re a sketchy vendor with questionable promises. To counter this, you need to be transparent and verifiable. Don’t just say what you will do, but say how you’ll verify that it was done correctly and how they’ll be able to see it as clearly as you do with nothing hidden. Given a choice between two otherwise equal proposals, the customer will select the one that is most likely to deliver as promised. Make the points required to be that proposal.


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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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