Why every proposal should pass its reviews

If all of your proposals are not passing their reviews, then you are conducting your reviews the wrong way.

The way most proposal reviews are conducted is like putting a blindfold on someone, asking them to hit a target, and then finding fault with them when they miss. In fact, it’s worse than that since most reviews are conducted at the last minute, with no time left to take another shot. Why do people set themselves up like that?

If you want better proposals, you can start by taking the blindfolds off and showing people the target they are supposed to hit. The way you do this is by giving both the writers and the reviewers the same set of criteria. If you skip that step, then not only will you get inconsistent reviews, but the writers won’t know what to do to pass the review.

If you can’t articulate to the writers exactly what they need to do to pass the proposal quality review, then proposal quality is undefined. And reviewing without being able to define what a quality proposal is cannot produce a quality proposal.

You may have some experienced staff who can recognize good proposal attributes, but if they are not all working against the same set of criteria, then who knows what they will find? You won’t know until you conduct the review and then it will be too late to do anything about it.

If you define what a quality proposal is and then give those criteria to both the writers and the reviewers, the writers will know what they have to do to pass the review. The focus of the review will change from catching mistakes or making random suggestions for improvement to making sure that the goals have been achieved in the best way possible. You will begin the reviews with a better quality draft, and get better, more consistently constructive feedback from reviewers.

The discussion that you have about what it should take to pass a proposal review will do a better job of training your staff than any class you can take. It is a discussion that needs to take place before the proposal starts, with everyone involved in the room. It is a discussion that should not end until the answers are written down. What should the reviewers look for? What should they ignore? Which decisions should they second guess and which decisions should they accept and focus on how well they’ve been implemented?

If you describe the criteria at too high of a level or in way that’s too subjective, how can the writers know what’s required to pass the review? Getting this right and getting both the writers and the reviewers on the same page will do more to improve your chances of winning than anything that happens after the RFP is released.

The MustWin Process contains a complete methodology called Proposal Quality Validation. It defines proposal quality and the criteria necessary to validate it. It gives writers a set of goals to achieve and brings structure to the review process to ensure that the focus is on the right things. While the full set of documentation for how to implement Proposal Quality Validation is only available to PropLIBRARY subscribers, we have put two topics describing it in the PropLIBRARY Demonstration Area so everyone can learn more about it. You can also check out the two white papers we wrote that started the ball rolling and ended up with us creating the MustWin Process.

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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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Our review services will show you the difference between a good proposal and a great proposal. We'll show you how a few simple changes can make a big impact and improve your win rate. We do reviews that are formal, detailed, and criteria based, as well as quick reviews just based on our experience. Either way, we focus on more than just personal opinions. We’ll show you what it means to assess a proposal against what it takes to win, and how to look at things from the customer’s perspective. What you learn from our review of this proposal can benefit all the proposals you produce in the future. It's one of the most cost-effective ways to use our consulting services. Click the Concierge Button to ask us more about it.