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  2. Introduction You can't wire an RFP. But you can make recommendations that result in changes to an RFP that work in your favor. The customer is responsible for determining whether those recommendations meet their needs. Here are some recommendations you might consider making. Every one of the topics below has two perspectives that amount to the "haves" and "have nots." For simplicity and brevity, the items below are written from the perspective of the "haves." If on any particular bid you are one of the "have nots" simply reverse the recommendations. For service contracts,
  3. A lot of companies make the mistake of treating a customer request for information as an opportunity to start selling them and end up sending them a mini-proposal. This is not the best way to position your company when the customer issues a request for information or makes a sources sought announcement. 5 things you should NOT do in your RFI or sources sought response See also: Pre-RFP Pursuit Sell. It’s the wrong time. Selling at the wrong time makes you look pushy and out of touch. Don’t be that kind of salesperson. Brag. Don’t be the best, state-of-the-art
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  5. The proposal manager role at one company can be very different from the role of a proposal manager at another company. This is often because the organization leaves it ambiguous. Position descriptions are often contradictory or too long to be feasible. The result is that sometimes the role is frequently defined by force of will of the person in it, sometimes by necessity, and sometimes by the organization’s culture. The differences end up being significant. Here are 9 factors that drive those differences. They can produce very different proposal managers. And that is neither good or bad.
  6. I'll let you in on a little secret. Nobody has found a way to make working remotely be like working colocated. I recommend that you don't even try. Treat it as an opportunity to reengineer the way you do things. You’re probably overdue anyway. This is a good time to think about what people need to complete their proposal goals. It’s not just about incorporating some new tools. Note, I did not say what people need to complete their assignments. Since you can’t just make a little change and get it right, you should start from the big picture. What information do people need? Where will they
  7. You will not achieve the maximum ROI by staffing business development, capture, and proposals based on using the minimum number of staff to crank out the maximum number of proposals. To maximize your ROI you need to staff according to the things that most impact your win rate. Increases in win rate return orders of magnitude more than the staffing required to achieve them. Here are seven things you should staff your proposals to achieve: See also: ROI RFP Compliance. Achieving compliance is critical. But it is not enough to win. However, it is a baseline for calculating
  8. If you are treating winning business as an expense, you may be leaving money on the table. Here are some signs and recommendations for what to do about it: See also: ROI Are you closing the leads you have? If you are not winning enough of what you pursue, either you are pursuing the wrong leads or you are not pursuing them effectively. If you’re not winning the majority of your pursuits, you are probably leaving money on the table. If you are winning enough to get by and have found a comfort zone it may be encouraging you to keep doing things the same way, and looking f
  9. The keywords that some use when searching for opportunities produce a lot more false hits that the keywords that other companies use. The suggestions below can help you reduce the number of pages of irrelevant opportunities you have to wade through to get to the good ones. But even when you do have to manually read them to determine whether they are relevant, if you have clarity about what leads you don’t want, you can greatly accelerate things. You can establish a process based on reading until you see one of the negative indicators then skip it and move on. The more you try to lea
  10. Lead qualification is the process of determining whether an “opportunity” is a valid lead. To be valid, it must be worth the cost of pursuing the lead. This should be calculated in steps with qualification criteria to be reviewed at each step to determine if the lead is still worth continued investment. These steps are often referred to as “gates” that must be passed to gain approval to pursue an opporunity. Most lead qualification criteria look for show-stoppers, or things that would make the company uninterested. These include strategic fit, capability or performance gaps, size (people
  11. When you've been asked to help write themes and you're stuck, decide which of these types bests matches what you need and then formulate some themes based on that type. See also: Themes Strengths and advantages. This is particularly useful when the evaluation criteria are based on strengths and weaknesses. Pointing out your strengths and competitive advantages is good to do, but only if they pass the “So what?” test. Being merely compliant with the RFP is not a strength. Your strengths and advantages only matter if they impact your evaluation score. Proof statemen
  12. It saves so much time to write a short proposal than writing a long one and editing it down. It also involves a lot less risk. However, it does require you to think about what you are going to write before you start. But you should be doing that anyway. Skip the introductions See also: Proposal Writing You don’t need a page to introduce your company. You don’t need half a page to introduce each section. Just say what matters --- to the customer. Just because something matters to you does not mean it will matter to the customer. What matters about your company to the
  13. Incumbents like to play it safe, especially when things have gone well. When the recompete comes up, they often focus on not making any mistakes and submitting a proposal that is fully compliant with the instructions. You shouldn't assume the recompete is wired for the incumbent contractor. But if you want to beat the incumbent, you must take risks. But not just any risks. You should target the things the customer cares about the most. Your proposal can be more credible than the incumbent’s proposal, even though the customer knows the incumbent and doesn’t know you. But you won’t achieve that
  14. We want to free you up to focus on relationship marketing by doing the online searching and monitoring of opportunities. When we monitor websites like SAM and identify opportunities for upcoming recompetes you can focus lead generation through relationship marketing. We’ll even help with that by letting you know when to reach out to customers before the RFP for recompetes are written so you can reach out and establish a relationship, influence the RFP, and get into position to win. We’ll stay behind the scenes so you own your customer relationships. And the best part is you’ll only pay fo
  15. The reasons why tables help reduce the page count are: RFPs usually allow for a smaller font size in tables The text that goes in a table can be succinct, use fewer words, and not to be complete sentences Table text can be repetitive, but tables also help you eliminate the repetitive parts Tables enable you to show relationships without explaining them Tables can show required data without having to talk about it. Just don't fill your tables with whitespace. The main challenge to using tables is designing the rows and columns to balance out without using
  16. RFP compliance means demonstrating fulfilment of all the instructions and requirements contained in the RFP. RFP compliance is mandatory for some bids, such as Federal Government RFPs. The problem is that full RFP compliance often cannot be achieved. See also: Proposal Management Proposal managers are taught from birth that: Proposals must be 100% compliant or they will lose and it will be your fault. Do not parrot the RFP. It even says so in the RFP. Do not merely state compliance. That is not compliant enough. You must explain how you will be complian
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  18. Companies often ask their proposal specialists to wear many hats. They blur the lines between sales, business development, capture, and proposals. And when it comes to proposals, they don’t make any distinction between proposal management, proposal writing, or proposal production. Some companies, usually the smallest ones, have one person doing all of them. When that person is working on a proposal, prospecting for new leads stops. When someone is writing, they stop managing. And capture gets dropped completely because they go straight from database searching to bidding with no relations
  19. See also: Customer's Perspective This one page of a brochure contains all of the following claims: Everybody loves us. You can depend on us. You can trust us. Family owned and operated. Since 1984. We pride ourselves on… Excellent customer service. We can help with everything… We’re the most recommended. Customers love us. It’s a mixed bag of unsubstantiated claims and claims that fail to pass the “So what?” test when taken on their own. It’s also pretty normal for a brochure where you don’t know who the reader i
  20. The following items can be used as a quality criteria checklist to determine whether what you have written is a proposal or a brochure. A brochure gives people something to buy. A proposal gives them something to consider and helps them reach a decision about it. Good brochure copy makes for bad proposal writing. You can use this list to determine whether what you have written reads like a brochure or reads like a proposal: Does it read like it is primarily an offer to sell the customer something, or a plan for how to solve challenges, find solutions, and make improvements? Is it a
  21. Nearly all of the examples of selling in writing that we see in life teach us the wrong ways to write for proposals. From the ads on TV and the junk mail we receive, to the ads in publications. Even the materials handed to us by other companies are written completely wrong for proposals. And yet, when people sit down to write a proposal, they can’t help but emulate what they’ve seen when others try to sell in writing. Even what we learn in school about writing is wrong for proposals. When you write a brochure or an ad, you are guessing who the reader will be. You have very little idea how
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  23. The scope of work required to achieve a high proposal win rate is bigger than one person. Here are some of the differences in the roles that proposal professionals often play: See also: Proposal Management The things that a Proposal Director does are different from what a Proposal Manager does. A Proposal Director might not even manage individual proposals. They manage all the proposals. A Proposal Director sets standards, defines processes, ensures staff are trained, and allocates resources across all of the company's proposals. They play a critical role in quality ass
  24. This proposal template applies to any industry. When combined with your subject matter expertise, it will enable you to quickly write a proposal in a way that matters to your customers. The easiest way to understand this approach to proposal writing is to think about using it to structure your paragraphs. Once you see how to do that, you can use the exact same template at the section level by breaking down each section into its components (topics, steps, features, locations, etc.). The introduction paragraph makes the point, followed by paragraphs for the details. Within each paragraph, y
  25. What is a pink team proposal review? The goal of a pink team proposal review is to determine if what you plan to write will produce the proposal that your company wants to submit, before you write it. At least that’s what it should be. If you define your pink team review as a review to make sure you are on track for having a successful red team review, your pink team review is likely to degrade into a draft review. This turns the pink team review into an exercise of trying to discover what you want in your proposal by tripping over it. This in turn contributes to a red team review that
  26. Getting into position to win before the RFP comes out requires preparation. Preparation doesn't just happen. The things you do before the proposal even starts can have a huge impact on your win rate. It makes more sense to focus on them than to rely on last minute proposal heroics. Here are links to five sets of tips that lead to even more content that can help you put just enough structure into place to be successful: Discovering what it will take to win. We think of sales as driven by charisma. But when the sale closes with a written proposal, sales is really driven by intelligence gat
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