We make a distinction between win strategies and themes. Win strategies are what you do in order to win, and themes are what you say in order to win. Win strategies often imply what your themes will be about, and may include delivering certain messages. But sometimes they are action items that have nothing to do with the document.
Win strategies are mostly about how you should position yourself and how to get into position. But there are a lot of different ways to position your company and your offering, and many factors to consider.
A remarkably simple formula can not only help you figure out what your win strategies should be for a particular bid, but can also show you where your proposals are lacking. Consider:
Strategic Plan + Offering + Circumstances = Win Strategies
Your strategic plan should define not only which markets you wish to target, but also how you should position your company within them. That high level positioning provides a framework for your win strategies, as well as a direction that your proposal win strategies should explore in more detail.
Your offering itself should imply win strategies related to features, benefits, requirements, pricing, management, staffing, schedule, and performance.
Your "circumstances" is the tricky one. The subtlety of the formula hides the complexity of understanding your circumstances.
- Are you the incumbent?
- How well do you know the customer and their preferences?
- What is the competitive environment?
- What is happening in the world around the project that might impact it?
- What is your relevant history and experience?
- Are you bidding as a team? If so, who’s on it?
- Are you ready?
- What issues need to be resolved?
- What don’t you know?
- How should you position your company and your offering?
- What alternatives, choices, preferences, and trade-offs need to be addressed?
- What does it say in the RFP?
- How will this customer evaluate and decide on this particular bid?
- What trends will impact the decision?
Pondering these and similar questions about your circumstances is where people often get lost. It’s easy to forget the other parts of the formula. This is especially true about the part dealing with the strategic plan, since a lot of companies don’t have one or ignore it when they write their proposals.
You could break down “circumstances” into categories:
- The customer’s preferences and issues
- The RFP
- The nature of the opportunity
- The competitive environment
- Your self-awareness, strengths, weaknesses, and history
- Any external issues and trends
But you always have to have that “other” category to cover the unpredictable things that come up. By breaking it down, we’ve made the problem smaller, but haven’t completely eliminated it. That’s okay because we’ve made it easier to make sure we’ve covered everything we should when trying to conceive our win strategies.
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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.
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