Creating a bid strategy re-use library

Before you create a proposal re-use library, give this a shot

When most people think of a proposal re-use library, they think of pre-written proposal sections. We’ve invented a new kind that can have a far greater impact on your win rates. Instead of trying to capture all of your proposal text and recycle it, which turns out to have a negative impact on your win rate, try focusing on your bid strategies instead.

When you do enough proposals, you start to see patterns emerging. In similar circumstances, you position yourself in similar ways. For example, when you are not the incumbent, you emphasize innovation. When you are the incumbent, you address innovation but counter with risk mitigation. Good customer intelligence could take you in a different direction, but when all else is equal, you tend to use the same tools.

What we’ve found, in exploring how to combine our Content Planning Methodology with our Proposal Recipe approach to creating re-use libraries, is that you can recycle your bid strategies. All you have to do is capture:

  • On this topic,
  • In this set of circumstances (customer, opportunity, and competitive environments),
  • Here is how we positioned ourselves.

What you get is similar to the Proposal Recipe format we recommend. You end up with a set of files, each one including:

  • A topic
  • A series of headings and text describing each set of circumstances
  • An approach to positioning under each heading

You can take this simple foundation further by also addressing:

  • Resources that your company has (staffing counts, locations, equipment, tools, processes, data, etc.)
  • Anticipated customer concerns, risks, and mitigations
  • What matters (about the circumstances or offering)
  • Differentiators
  • Value propositions
  • Your organization's preferences and why
  • Relevant market research
  • Relevant project/experience examples
  • Testimonials
  • Competitive issues
  • Known trade-offs
  • Relevant existing graphics
  • Examples of potentially relevant graphics
  • Points of contact and coordination

If you mine your strengths for differentiators and prepare defensive positions for any weaknesses, you can help future proposal writers do a much better job of identifying the winning strategies. Anyone who is competent can write a proposal based on following the instructions. But coming up with the winning strategies is a challenge. This is where you can provide some inspiration.

If you keep things short (at the bullet level), then you can easily copy from your bid strategy library into future Content Plans in the form of instructions. These new instructions will explain how to position the other details already in the Content Plan. This will combine what to write with how to write it and produce a far better proposal far more quickly.

And because this approach addresses strategy and positioning, it directly relates to your ability to win. Over time you not only accelerate the development of your win strategies, but you also strengthen them.

When this will really help is when you are using junior staff to help prepare the proposals. In my experience this is, give or take, roughly all proposals. Being able to look up what strategies work best in which circumstances will help your proposal staff think strategically.

Recycling proposal text only leads to staff getting the proposal done quickly by changing as little as possible. A bid strategy re-use library gets staff thinking strategically, which can transform all of the text in the proposal. But it still accelerates things, because most of the time spent on a proposal is spent trying to figure out what context to put things in. And most of the time wasted on a proposal is a result of someone coming in after it’s written and asking pesky questions about strategy that should have been asked at the beginning.

A bid strategy re-use library can also help you get to the point where you are reviewing your strategies before you write the narrative. It can help you get to the point where you review what you are going to say in the proposal before you write it. That way you only have to write it once.



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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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