For content we've produced related to accelerating proposal writing and making it easier.
When you have been blessed get stuck with a proposal assignment or decide to pursue a bid where you’ll be doing most or all of the work yourself, it’s natural to look for ways to make it easier. Here are seven things you need to do to successfully complete your proposal assignment and what you need to make them happen. After that, we explain our approach to make doing those things easier so that you can quickly complete your assignment and deliver a winning proposal.
To successfully complete your assignment you need to:
- Get the information you need to complete your assignment. To get the right information, you have to know what to ask for. If you wait until the start of the proposal it’s probably too late to get what you need.
- Assess the information and turn it into win strategies. To assess the information, it helps to have some guidance regarding what to consider. A checklist for your bid strategies can be even more useful than one for the writing.
- Figure out what should go into the proposal. To figure out what should go into the proposal, you need a checklist of considerations combined with a way to organize it all, before you start writing. There are better ways to accelerate proposal writing than using a template.
- Create a well written narrative proposal. To create a well written narrative proposal, you need organized source information as well as the right technique.
- Format and produce the proposal. To format and produce the proposal you need some basic skills.
- Validate the quality. To validate the quality of the proposal, you need criteria based on what it will take to win and a baseline of comparison.
- Make it all add up to what it will take to win. To make it all add up to what it will take to win, you need to be able to define it and turn it into specifications for the writers as well as criteria for the reviewers.
Most of the time spent on a proposal is spent thinking. It is spent gathering information and figuring out what to do with it. It is spent discovering what it will take to win and then figuring out how to get the words on paper to achieve it. If you are spending the majority of your time re-writing, it’s because you didn’t spend enough time thinking.
Since this is where you spend the most time, this is where you should focus in order to make it easier. If you focus on formatting, production, or automation, you may make some things easier, but you’ll be missing out on your biggest opportunities. To make your proposal assignment easier you need the right information and some guidance for converting it into copy for your proposal. To get them, you need:
- A list of questions so that you ask the right ones. Like the ones we provide to help with pre RFP pursuit.
- Guidance on how to turn the answers into win strategies and themes for the proposal.
- A way to collect and organize the information so you can account for everything before you start writing.
- Techniques for assessing the quality of your proposal writing as you go along so you get it right the first time, using the same criteria that anyone else reviewing your proposal will use.
If you have the perspective of a proposal manager, you are probably thinking about ways to extend your process so that in addition to giving assignments, you deliver what the authors will need to complete them successfully.
But if you have the perspective of someone who is working on their own to complete a proposal or an assignment, you don’t want a process that serves everybody else’s needs, you just want to get started and complete your work. What you need to make your assignment easier is the same process, only you need to approach it differently. For someone just trying to get a proposal done, what you need is to treat the process steps as a checklist. Instead of going through things methodically, one at a time, while documenting each step so you can coordinate with others and manage expectations, what you need is to be able to see the considerations as a list of ingredients. You need to be able to preserve the inspiration while combining all the steps.
If you have the perspective of a business owner, then you should put something like this into place early. That will lay the foundation so that as you grow, you can turn the checklists into steps in a process with multiple participants. If you wait until you have multiple participants to build the foundation, you will lose proposals while you struggle to get everyone on the same page.
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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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