All Activity

This stream auto-updates

  1. Last week
  2. Some companies prepare their proposals like they are trying to ensure people are miserable. Some of them even take it as a point of pride that everyone hates working on proposals. If you make proposals easier, there will be less glory at the finish line. So maybe we’ve got it all wrong and need to avoid all that process-stuff. Instead let’s embrace making sure that everyone has a bad proposal experience. Here’s how: See also: Proposal Management Hand them an outline and tell them to start writing. This makes it almost a certainty that they will spend all of their time u
  3. Our tangible training programs are all based on exercises that create the tools you’ll need to be successful. Instead of just talking about process, we’ll create the checklists you can use to improve your process. Instead of focusing on steps and procedures, we’ll focus on goals and accomplishments. We’ll help you understand how to approach each topic, how to define success, and how to measure your progress toward achieving it. These are private sessions. Only staff from your company will participate. We will be able to discuss your specific circumstances, goals, and environment. We will
  4. Earlier
  5. Sometimes it seems like the proposal schedule is a work of fiction or a plan that has failed before it has even begun. Sometimes you know the moment you give a proposal assignment that it will not be met. Sometimes you and the person getting the assignment both know it is going to be ignored and no one is going to enforce the deadline. When this happens routinely, it can make being a proposal manager discouraging and feel pointless. The trap you should avoid falling into is to assume that if only the deadlines were better enforced, it would all be better. There is more going on than mere
  6. Going straight from sales to a proposal is problematical. When a salesperson spends time working on a proposal, they are not finding and qualifying more leads. This can cause peaks and valleys in your growth. When the salesperson does not spend time working on the proposal, who is going to apply the customer, opportunity, and competitive insights discovered to winning the proposal? Without those insights, your win probability will suffer. Having a proposal manager will improve your ability to produce the document for submission and will increase your win probability. But without quality i
  7. What happens when you start writing as soon as you have an outline… See also: Content Planning Box An outline is where you start. But it’s a long, long way from the finish line. If you start proposal writing from an outline you will be giving your proposal writers zero guidance beyond a heading. And maybe an RFP. If they read it. You are expecting the writers to figure it all out. Even the best proposal writers need input and to think things through before they start writing. No one does their best work by just jumping into proposal writing. Starting from an outline may
  8. It is so much easier to talk about your experience than to plan approaches or develop differentiators. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that the value of your experience answers all requirements. Your experience has no value and does not matter. Unless you articulate that value and bring meaning to it. The following example is loosely based on proposal content that was actually submitted to the customer, with some changes to hide the identity of the company that submitted it. The company was not one of our customers (but probably should be). Original RFP Requirement: Describ
  9.   If winning proposals is a mission critical function for your company, then you can’t treat the proposal management process as a support or document production function. The goal of the proposal management process is to guide the people working on a proposal and enable them to be successful by accounting for the information, planning, and quality assurance needed. But this doesn’t really capture the importance of it. The proposal management process requires going beyond document production to ensure that it delivers mission critical growth to the company. The proposal management proces
  10. Describing your own company is a mistake, even when the RFP uses the word “describe.” The customer doesn’t care about your company, they care about what they are going to get and whether you can deliver as promised. They ask for the description because they want to assess that ability. The following example is loosely based on proposal content that was actually submitted to the customer, with some changes to hide the identity of the company that submitted it. The company was not one of our customers (but probably should be). Original proposal paragraph: See also: Examp
  11. You know things about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. But what do you know and what do you do about it? Must people just ponder it hoping lightning strikes. But here is a more organized way to leverage what you know into winning your proposals. It starts by making lists. It’s really nice when the customer does that for you. For example, if they give you a list of goals, a list of evaluation criteria, and a list of requirements. But not everything comes packaged in neat little lists. Sometimes you have to parse them out yourself. Here are some good list topics
  12. Apple is famous for having a designer lead their product development efforts instead of having an engineer lead them. Apple designers obsess over what will please their customers. In many ways that exactly describes what great proposal writers do. So who designs the offering for a company that offers complex services like engineering? Should it be a subject matter expert? Someone who understands the work? Or should it be a designer, someone who understands what will please the customer? Could it be that most contractors have it backwards? See also: Technical Approach
  13. Describing your own company is a mistake, even when the RFP uses the word “describe.” The customer doesn’t care about your company, they care about what they are going to get and whether you can deliver as promised. They ask for the description because they want to assess that ability. The following example is loosely based on proposal content that was actually submitted to the customer, with some changes to hide the identity of the company that submitted it. The company was not one of our customers (but probably should be). Original RFP requirement: See also: Example
  14. People perform better when they have the right support. Teams of people perform better when their collaboration is coordinated. The proposal process is only part of what is required to optimize the performance of proposal contributors. Proposal management begins with the implementation of a formal process. But that is just the beginning. It is only part of managing what it will take to win. It takes more than defining some steps and telling the proposal team what to do to and on what schedule. Even though I had spent two decades defining and implementing the MustWin Process, when I
  15. Some people write like they are proposal narcissists. Their proposals are all about how great they are. They claim this. They claim that. They describe themselves in such grandiose terms. When they explain their approaches they say “We will…” after “We will…” after “We will…” as opposed to focusing on what the customer will get. But your customer doesn’t believe that noise. So why are you even writing it? You wouldn’t represent yourself in person with someone you just met. But when we don’t know what to write, we fall back on what we know. It’s easy to write about yourself. And because y
  16. A lot of RFPs assess proposals in terms of strengths and weaknesses. But they usually don’t tell you what a strength is. While you will find some customers that will define a strength as meeting the requirements, that is not a safe assumption. Some customers believe a strength is something that goes beyond merely meeting the requirements. Weaknesses are easy to define. It’s when the customer can’t find something they think you should have talked about. Note: that’s not quite the same thing as you didn’t talk about it. It may mean that there’s an aspect to it they think is important that
  17. It would be really great to know if you're going to win a pursuit, or even just have a decent chance at it, before you put all that effort into it. We are driven to really want to quantify our chances of winning a pursuit. We want to make it a science. Really badly. There are several reasons why people need to estimate the probability of win (pwin). It helps to: See also: Winning Determine whether a lead is worth pursuing at all Figure out how much to budget on the pursuit Assign the right staff Have a better idea about the likeliness of future revenue
  18. If you can articulate a repeatable proposal process and successfully implement it in the real world, congratulations! You are a proposal manager. Your education, however, is just beginning. Proposal development is not really about the process. Or said another way, the proposal process is just one tool for accomplishing the goal of winning in writing using a team of people working against a deadline to respond to customer requirements better than your competitors. The process is only part of what needs to happen. And it isn’t even the most important part: See also: Proposal M
  19. When given aa opportunity to network with their peers, talk to experts, and forge relationships with potential customers why do some many people simply go on LinkedIn to post ads? And why do so many of them write their proposals the same way? We are so pleased to submit the following proposal because you might pay us a lot of money. We are a unique state-of-the-art industry leader. Our people, hired at the lowest possible price from the same labor pool as everyone else, are what makes us so special. Our slogan differentiates us. You should select us because we have other customers. We wil
  20. Everyone contributes to proposals. If specifically asked. When they can. But no one seems to own the outcome… Even the proposal manager is often just producing what other people came up with and passing it along. So whose job is it to win? Everybody wants to win. But who has it as their top priority? You’d be surprised at how many companies have no one who has winning proposals as their primary responsibility and top priority. You can’t come in at the last minute and claim that winning is your highest priority. Last minute heroics is not the best way to win. Is it sales' job to
  21. See also: Winning Each time you start writing without a plan for what you are going to write, I’m going to start with the points my writers are going to prove. Every time you try to figure out what to offer by writing about it, puts me several drafts ahead of you. Every time you start your proposal without input puts you another draft behind me. Every day one of your people misses a deadline is a day added to my schedule. Each time you start without customer insights puts my score ahead of yours. The more you cut your staff working on proposals, the more t
  22. You will not become prosperous by producing lots of cheap, low win rate proposals. The secret to business success is not to find as many leads and submit as many proposals as possible. While you may catch a fish by randomly casting your line over and over, you will not feed a village that way. The solution is not to cast as many random lines as you can. You need to become smarter about fishing and invest in your gear. Maybe buy a net and a boat. You need to put some effort into it. Fishing at random is a pleasant, lazy way to while away the time and just maybe, occasionally eat. But
  23. Most people calculate proposal efficiency the wrong way. They calculate it based on how much effort they put into their proposals. This is based on the assumption that less effort always makes things more efficient. And it happens to be a wrong assumption. Efficiency is defined by maximizing productivity with the least amount of wasted effort. Measuring proposal efficiency See also: Improving Win Rates The productivity of proposal effort is best measured by the amount or percentage won. This means that the efficiency of proposal development is defined by the dollars
  24. What drives the efficiency of the proposal process is not what you think. It’s not how quickly you can crank out your proposals It’s not how much time you put into producing the document It’s not what causes a train wreck at the end of the proposal, or what can fix it It’s not how easily you can recycle your previous proposal content It’s not any of the things people complain about when working on proposals Losing efficiently is counter-productive. Putting effort into change in order to improve efficiency is counter-intuitive. But it has the biggest payoff, b
  25. We published 98 new content items last year. But it's not the quantity that counts, it's the quality. We published some of the most useful articles ever this year. We've split them into two groups, one for everyone and one just for subscribers. Just take a look and think about how they can help improve your win rate: 12 fundamental problems you have to solve to prepare great proposals The best example of bad proposal writing I've ever seen 14 examples of proposal writing that show how to exceed RFP compliance in ways that don’t cost a dime Why the Executive Summary is y
  26. Why do companies only have one proposal process? Planning the activity is not the same as planning the content of the proposal. The activities that go into the proposal process include things like: See also: Content Planning Box A kickoff meeting Building a compliance matrix Proposal writing Proposal reviews Final production Etc. You could claim that proposal content planning should be a step between the outline and the start of proposal writing, but while that is sometimes claimed, it is rarely achieved. It might have something t
  27. Marketing is about segmentation. Filling your pipeline is about divide and conquer. It's easier to eat the pie one slice at a time. Don't think of the total number of leads you need to find to hit your numbers. Instead, think of how many leads you need in each slice. Then strategically consider how big each slice should be. Is one dominant? Or do you not want to have all of your eggs in one basket? Which ones are required to maintain your revenue, and which are the targets for growth? Here are some ideas for how to divide your pipeline and make filling it easier: See also: Assess
  1. Load more activity