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  2. 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
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  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. Everyone says they have a proposal process. But all of them have problems. In many ways, the proposal process is something that is in continual development. It’s not something you write down and are done with. But what should concern you is that most of the hundreds of proposal process implementations I have seen have critical flaws. I’m not talking about the mistakes you already know not to make in creating a proposal. I’m talking about mistakes in how you’ve constructed your proposal process. These are flaws that will cause them to plateau and be unable to reach a higher win rate.
  15. Art is in the eye of the beholder. This is mine. Proposals are more mechanical than art. They are more scientific. They are quantifiable. They are competitive. They are capitalistic. And they are art. There is a depth to doing proposals that most people don't understand and it holds them back. See also: Great Proposals But the art in proposals is not where most people expect to find it. The art is not in the construction, the presentation, or the style of the words. The art is in the solution. And not just in the solution that you offer to the customer. Wh
  16. 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,
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
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