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Do we share the same vision for winning proposals?
For each step in the proposal, people go to PropLIBRARY and look up what they need to know and download forms, checklists, templates, and recipes that will help them. The material in the Knowledgebase includes the MustWin Process, something CapturePlanning.com first released in 2008 and has been refining ever since. It is broken down into 1-2 page topics that cover everything from lead identification to award, so that staff can execute the process by going to the beginning and working through it topic by topic. Or they can use what’s there to fill a gap or enhance their own process. All of the material can be viewed, printed, and saved to your own computer, and it’s designed to be customized.
PropLIBRARY is an electronic Knowledgebase with lots of searching, filtering, linking, and interactivity. For ease of use, we made the user interface similar to that of a book. People can browse the Tables of Contents and even page through the topics if they wish. But they can also filter out the topics that aren’t relevant to them, go straight to something they need, ask questions, discuss the topics, view online training, and do other things that just aren’t possible with a book. PropLIBRARY is a learning platform and a performance tool.
The Goal That Has Driven Us
When we created the MustWin Process, our real goal was to solve many of the problems related to business development and proposals that most people just assume are part of doing proposals. Instead of starting from the ways things have always been done and recreating the same problems, we took a fresh look at what people really need and found better ways to meet those needs. What evolved out of that was a new vision for how to win business.
Our Vision: Clear Expectations
Everyone starts the pursuit knowing what you’re getting into and what to expect, because it’s in writing. As a group, you get to make an informed decision to either do it the way it says, or not. It’s designed to be customized, so if you want to you can change it. But you change it in writing. Everyone knows what to expect because it tells them. If there’s any question about who should do what and when, they can look it up. Smart participants will look it up ahead of time and know what’s coming.
Our Vision: Executive Opt-in (or Opt-out)
This goes double for the Executive Sponsor. You, most of all, need to know what to expect from the people preparing the proposal. The MustWin Process tells you what you can expect, how things will be done, and who will do what. All we ask is that, if you decide you want your proposal done according to the MustWin Process, you help redirect any staff who don’t feel obligated to stick to it. If people don’t do what’s expected of them, then no one knows what to expect. Including you.
Our Vision: Discipline
Proposal Managers often say that things would go much better if people had more discipline and the process was enforced. We mostly disagree because we believe people should want to follow the process. They should immediately see how it will be easier to follow the process than to make it up as they go along. If this isn’t the case, then maybe the process can be improved.
But some people catch on quicker than others. When we observe people implementing the process, the first time through is often an eye opener — even though the process tells them what to expect, some people don’t fully realize how what the process recommends at the beginning impacts things at the end until they get there. But the next time through they get it and participate enthusiastically, because it all fits and makes sense. Nothing is wasted — if you leave something out you’ll end up needing it later. We often challenge people to point out and skip any steps that aren’t absolutely needed.
Our Vision: Getting Ready for RFP Release
The pursuit of a lead is guided by a written list of questions, action items, and goals to fulfill prior to RFP release that are downloaded from PropLIBRARY. This list is put through four Readiness Reviews that will tell you if the pursuit is trending toward or away from being ready to win at RFP release. For markets where you can’t start a pursuit until the RFP is released, you can still use a variation of Readiness Reviews to help you quickly assess what you know and what you don’t know in order to formulate your win strategies at RFP release.
Readiness Reviews are aimed at achieving an information advantage over your competition and the ability to articulate what it will take to win. They also provide a foundation for in-depth metrics assessments that can unlock the hidden factors impacting your win rate, without adding extra effort to track the metrics. The combination of Readiness Reviews and metrics provides a quantifiable basis for tracking progress toward readiness and for whether to invest in further pursuit.
Our Vision: What Happens at RFP Release
Our vision for RFP release is that everything is staged for rapid response. The Readiness Reviews have prompted the identification of staff and resources as well as the preparation of the information you will need to win. Numerous checklists, forms, and templates are used and partially pre-populated to move quickly without overlooking anything. The information gathered during the Readiness Review phase drops right into the various places it is needed to develop the proposal.
Our Vision: Figuring Out What to Write
We believe that editing and re-editing a narrative is a lousy way to design anything, especially a proposal. So the MustWin Process provides a better way to figure out everything that needs to go into your proposal, before you turn it into a narrative. But it’s hard for people to think about writing, without actually writing. And more importantly, if planning adds to the effort of writing the proposal instead of making it easier, people will question whether it’s worth it.
We treat the Proposal Content Plan as a container into which you put all the ingredients you want to go into your proposal. A Proposal Content Plan acts like a rubric that tells the writers exactly what they need to do to pass the proposal review. We combine it with an iterative approach that ensures you don’t leave anything out. The PropLIBRARY Knowledgebase contains explanations for what to do in each iteration, and checklists to make sure you covered everything you should have.
Our Vision: Planning vs. Writing
We believe that you should make the trade-off decision between how much time to allocate to planning vs. writing. A Proposal Content Plan can be quickly prepared in less than a day, you could spend a week on it and do a thorough job, or you could fall somewhere in between. Depending on your circumstances, one of those will be better than the other. A more detailed plan will add value and improve quality, but it does take time. PropLIBRARY gives advice, but you are in control. We believe that PropLIBRARY should support you and not force you or break when circumstances force you to adapt.
The good news is that having a Proposal Content Plan can greatly accelerate the writing, compensating for the time spent on planning. It turns writing the narrative draft into a finite process of elimination. It also prevents re-writes and endless editing cycles. PropLIBRARY contains guidance for how to make this trade-off so that if you are pressed for time, you sacrifice the things that add the least value to the plan.
Our Vision: Proposal Writing
Instead of being set aside when it’s time to go from planning to writing, the Proposal Content Plan becomes the proposal without any wasted effort. Our approach to proposal planning enables you to quantify both your progress in writing and the quality of your proposal.
Re-read that last paragraph because it’s innovative and incredibly valuable. It’s also crucial for both process acceptance and expectation management.
As the Proposal Content Plan is transformed into the draft proposal, it provides writers with guidance regarding what to write about. They still need guidance on how to write from the customer’s perspective. PropLIBRARY gives them that guidance, along with inspiration and self-review checklists. The writing goes faster, the results are more reliable, and everything is focused on what it will take to win.
Our Vision: Quality
We believe that it is critically important to define proposal quality and can’t believe how many companies do proposals without a written definition for it that they use to guide their reviews. So we give you one. And it’s linked to the discovery of what it will take to win during the Readiness Reviews and the insertion of those elements into the Proposal Content Plan.
We believe that it doesn’t matter how you do your proposal reviews, but that it’s extremely important what you review. For each proposal, we offer templates to help you to put a written Review Plan into place in as little as 15 minutes that addresses what to review and how to review it.
We focus on what needs to be validated to achieve proposal quality and not so much on the number of reviews or even their timing. We identify what needs to be validated based on the Proposal Content Plan and the Readiness Reviews. But what we really do is link what gets reviewed to what it will take to win. We articulate it, define it, and then validate that the proposal reflects it. We do it explicitly in writing and not just by assuming that’s what reviewers will look for. That’s what you can expect from following the process.
Our Vision: It’s a Science and Not an Art
From the upfront customer relationship and intelligence gathering, to figuring out what should go into your proposal, to writing the copy, to reviewing it to assure quality, we believe in a scientific approach. Decisions and reviews are criteria based. Goals and action items are written down, with guidance and checklists provided. Progress is measured. Reviews are scored. All of them produce metrics which can be correlated with win rates. Follow the process over a series of proposals and you can see which things have the most impact on your win rates. Don’t assume you already know and throw conventional wisdom aside, because the results we see in the field are often not what people expect.
Our Vision: Everyone Has Access
We structured our Corporate Subscription so that you don’t have to count heads or worry about who should get access. We want everyone who ever touches a proposal to be able to sign in to PropLIBRARY when they need to, and don’t want you pulling your punches. But you control who that is. Corporate subscribers manage their own access list and can update it any time.
Our Vision: Winning as a Team
Our vision is that information builds over time, until it becomes an information advantage. The accumulated information is turned into win strategies and themes, that themselves become the proposal, and you can validate that the proposal contains everything it should and traces back to what it will take to win. Our vision is that people can sign into PropLIBRARY any time they need to, to find out what comes next, what they should do, what they can expect, and how to make sure they are doing things correctly.
Our vision is that the less experienced staff, the technical staff, and the staff who go years between proposals aren’t just thrown into the proposal. Our vision is that they get guidance that helps maximize their ability to contribute toward winning. Our vision is that they are all able to get on the same page without having to backtrack, re-write, or waste effort.
Our vision is about ensuring that everyone involved discovers what it will take to win, can articulate it, knows how to figure out and plan how to put that into the proposal, and to validate that it’s there as planned. Our vision is how to win. Intentionally. Every. Time.
If you'd like a peak at the demo area for PropLIBRARY, click here. It has a few topics out of the hundreds that constitute our Knowledgebase.
If you'd like pricing and purchasing information, click here. You'll also find a couple dozen articles with more information about our approaches.
There are plenty of other free articles like this in our Article Library. Enjoy them and show us some love by using the social buttons up top to share them with others.
Our free articles openly discuss the theory and foundations behind our recommendations and are intended to provide some help for people who want to build their own solutions. For those who want something they can implement immediately, PropLIBRARY provides the templates, forms, and process documentation that make it easy to turn theory into winning proposals. PropLIBRARY is available as a Single User Subscription and a Corporate Subscription.
We have also started working with companies to help them assess the quality of their proposals and implement the things we recommend in our articles. You can click here to contact us or drop in to one of our monthly Get To Know Us online meetings.