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  3. In most companies, proposal development is the most immature part of the company. But they don’t realize it because they’ve bought into myths that enable them to think all that work they’ve put in amounts to more sophistication than it really does. Often what they do is different from what they say they do. Because of the myths that people have bought into, management practices that would not be tolerated in any other part of the company become expected as the norm in proposal management. These are not all of the myths, but some with implications that less obvious and more interesting. If
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  5. Most people who want to win contracts realize they need a proposal management process. An unfortunate percentage think they have a proposal process when they really just have a way of doing things. But what really messes companies up is that they have the wrong goals for their proposal management process. Sometimes their process even works against what they should be trying to achieve. Here are 8 things that people often want from a proposal management process: See also: Steps Lowering costs and increasing efficiency. Proposal efficiency is a bit counter-intuitive.
  6. Maybe you’ve got a great proposal process. Maybe you don’t. But when you’re in the middle of one, you’re stuck. You can't go back in time and prepare better before you start. The resources you have may be all you're going to get. You may not be able to get answers to your questions. And yet, you must conquer. So how do you figure out what to do when? How do you herd the cats to work like a team? Where should you devote your attention? How do you make the most of your circumstances? Is there anything you can do to make them better? Who are you? Keep in mind that sometimes “you” i
  7. Sometimes the customer recycles their RFPs. They use generic evaluation criteria. They hurt themselves when they do this, but they still do it. The advantage of using generic evaluation criteria to the customer is that they can interpret them any way they want. They can select the bidder they prefer and then justify it. It’s not supposed to work that way, but when you see generic evaluation criteria, you have to wonder… The disadvantage to the customer is that generic evaluation criteria doesn’t tell bidders what the customer’s priorities are and what matters about what they are bu
  8. Most companies have their priorities backwards and it’s hurting their win rate. To show them, I like to tell companies that they should spend as little time as possible figuring out how to win, what they need to say to the customer to get the top score, and how they should present their offering. The much easier alternative is to write draft after draft until you run out of time without ever having figured it out. Do as little as possible to win. Of course, you’re not going to win if you don’t build your proposal around what it will take to win and say what the customer needs to hear
  9. My wife broke the screen on her phone recently. The repair turned out fine, but her experience with the vendor wasn’t great. It wasn’t bad either. But listening to her describe it, all I could think of was what a great teaching moment it was for proposal writing. Yeah, I’m wired that way. The vendor didn’t have the right screen replacement and had to order it. When it came in, it sat until my wife called to see if it came in when it was supposed to. When she got home after she dropped her phone off to be fixed, she realized that they had no way to contact her and tell her that it was read
  10. Victory for a proposal means that the customer accepts your proposal instead of their other alternatives. Depending on the customer, there are different paths that can get you there. And sometimes getting there means taking more than one path. The paths to victory include: See also: Winning Getting the top score. This is not nearly as straightforward as it sounds. First you have to assess the categories that get scored, and then what you have to do to maximize your score in each category. If the language is simple, bland, and generic, it won’t help you understand w
  11. There’s a line that you should not cross. It’s hard to tell exactly where that line is. But once you cross it, your proposal manager is no longer focusing on increasing your win rate and instead is simply getting proposals out the door. At the simplest level, a proposal manager is responsible for implementing the process. And being the heroes they are, they tend to fill gaps. But each gap they fill means giving up something else. And when they cross the line from overseeing the process into being part of production, they put the proposal at risk because while their attention is on writing
  12. It is possible to start at RFP release and win. It may be challenging, maybe even extra challenging. It’s not something you should attempt if you’re going to be ordinary in your approach. It’s not something that should be your routine. But it is one of those things that if you are going to do it, you better seek to do it better than the folks who had time to prepare. But how? See also: Dealing with adversity Avoid being disqualified. Do you have the minimum registrations, certifications, and qualifications for their purchasing department to be willing to contract with
  13. It’s a mistake to have the same person providing proposal management and proposal writing. Not only will it increase your failure rate, but it will also decrease your company’s ability to write great proposals. No matter how many times people say this, you still see companies thinking they can get away with having the proposal manager write small proposal sections. Here are the risks: See also: Proposal Management Stand-up and progress meetings. If I’m the proposal manager and I take on a writing assignment, then instead of monitoring progress, surfacing iss
  14. 1) Is what you’re offering really the best? See also: Content Planning Box Having the best people is not good enough. You need the best people with the best processes. But even having the best people and best processes isn’t even good enough. You need the best people and the best processes supported by the best: Quality assurance Tools Executive oversight Issue resolution Resource allocation Communication Oh, and you need them to have the best impact on the stakeholders and deliver the best results. If you merely propose the most
  15. Better proposals require becoming a better company. The question “How can your company do proposals better?” starts by asking “How can your company do the things you write about better?" and that in turn becomes "How can you be a better company?" Want a better management plan? Start by determining what better management would look like. Ask yourself what you have to do to deliver that. Then become that kind of company. Want a better technical approach? Start by determining what a better offer might be and what you have to turn yourself into to in order to deliver it. Want better
  16. I’ve seen way too many proposals produced by experienced people that were thoroughly ordinary. In my worldview this means they sucked so bad it was embarrassing, because ordinary isn’t competitive. When your job is cranking out proposals at high volume under adverse circumstances, people tend to give up polishing them. If people do this long enough, they sometimes stop trying. But they continue to reliably crank out acceptably adequate ordinary proposals that they try really hard to make good. But the reality is they are full of bad habits that pass all the reviews and are easy to beat. Having
  17. Here is a list of all the tools in MustWin Now and the features you can use in them. They can be combined in many different, creative ways to help you with your proposals. If you want to explore you can use this list to make sure you know how it all works. If you find something isn't self explanatory or confusing, just let us know and we'll walk you through it. The scripts below are organized to go tool by tool, with the collaboration features last. In reality, the collaboration and proposal management features can be used at any time. For learning, it's good to have data to collaborate w
  18. If you ever find yourself competing against me, please use these themes! I want you to use these themes because they are easy to beat. They basically promise the minimum. They demonstrate insecurity, lack of insight, and zero initiative. They sound like the claims people expect to hear made in bad commercials. They get ignored. They will never increase your evaluation score. They usually find their way into proposals when the writers haven’t received any better input and have to make something up on their own. So if you and I are ever working on competing proposals, I would love it if you
  19. Submitting low quality proposals and making it up in volume is a bad strategy. A better strategy is to target doing the least costly things that return the most revenue. When it comes to proposals, the things that generate the most revenue may not be what you think they are. A key lesson for companies that depend on proposals See also: Successful process implementation Preparing a proposal can be costly. But preparing a winning proposal returns a large amount of revenue. The problem is that not every proposal wins. When you increase your win rate, you gain revenue w
  20. A simple guide to what to write about in your proposals. Good things to write about in your proposals See also: Proposal writing These are the things the customer is looking for, the things they want to see. Instead of talking around them, make a point related to them at the start of each paragraph. Explanations and reasons “why.” The reasons why you do things show more insight and depth of understanding than a claim about what you do or how great you are. Proofs. Proof points can be evaluated as strengths. Things that are unproven are often just noise
  21. When the customer asks you to describe your experience, what should you write about it? Should you describe the work you did? Should you describe the results you achieved? Should you talk about something else? It turns out that when the customer asks for your experience, they could be could be asking for many different things. Past performance See also: Themes Past performance is something different from corporate experience. Past performance is a reference check to discover whether the customer was happy with your performance, with some additi
  22. How should you position your experience to get the best score? You may need to position things differently in different sections of the proposal where experience is relevant. Make sure you thoroughly tailor any experience write-ups you might be reusing to match the way you will be positioning it. You can’t be all things to all people. What matters about your corporate experience to the new customer? Don’t try to position against all of these that sound beneficial. Carefully select the ones that will have the most impact on the proposal evaluation and tailor your write-ups around them.
  23. What goes through the customer’s head while they’re evaluating your proposal? In addition to all of the distractions like what time they have to pick the kids up from school today or what they’d like to do after work, the customer has a lot to consider when deciding whether to accept your proposal. Even if the evaluation is conducted formally by a robot, with forms and detailed procedures, they will still consider the big picture. But what’s in that picture? The customer will consider your approaches, qualifications, and pricing. But they will also consider: See also: Inform
  24. monthly_2021_06/224827274_ProposalProofPointCheatSheet_pdf.1bd2323f3ac2542b5baa3d2a8e82a5a6
  25. Claims are lame. After having sat through countless debriefs, especially the ones where the customer evaluated based on strengths and weaknesses, I’ve realized some things that explain a lot about proposals: I have never seen a customer agree that any of the thousands of claims made in those proposals were a strength. The strengths cited by customers are almost always simple facts, like something you have or have done. The weaknesses they cited were usually things that weren’t said that the customer thought was important. It’s as if they didn’t even read your claims. It
  26. With a certain well known government multiple award RFP of huge value out, and new ones like it becoming routine, this is a good time to reflect on the customer and how the number of proposals being received impacts how they make their selection decisions. What if they only get one proposal? If the customer only expects to get one proposal, or if that’s just the way it turns out, they approach the proposal with a few considerations: See also: Bid Strategies and Proposal Themes Does it meet their requirements? They have no other proposals to compare it to. So the
  27. All proposals are competitive. Even if the RFP is completely wired to give the advantage to one preferred company and no one else bids, that company is competing against themselves. They can still blow it. And a naïve upstart can always come in and steal it away because they don’t know they can’t win. It may be rare, but it does happen. And customers are sometimes ready for something new. Which will the customer select? See also: Winning You should go into every proposal assuming it’s competitive and pushing to be better than you were yesterday. If everyone proposes
  28. Proposal content planning is where you really start to see a payoff from using MustWin Now. Because you used it to import the RFP and create your proposal outline, it can now greatly accelerate figuring out what to write about to address the requirements and how to best present it. The first thing it does is create the content plan shell for you. In the column on the left, you'll see all the proposal sections. Click one. If you used the Cross-Reference Tool to map the RFP requirements to the outline, you'll see all of the RFP requirements that are relevant to this section as colored
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