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12 ways to take action on your insights about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment to win your proposals

It's not what you think you know, it's what you do about it that wins proposals.

I review a lot of proposals for companies, and one thing that I frequently see is that what they tell me about their customer, opportunity, and competitive insights didn’t make it onto paper. There are a few reasons for this.

When you create a single list of “themes” for your proposal, they tend to be at too high of a level and they don’t map to the proposal outline. There are redundancies and gaps. They also don’t map to the RFP. So when people respond to the requirements, they don’t do it in the context of your themes. What they tend to do is write a merely compliant proposal and then go to the list and see where they can sprinkle in the too high-level themes. The result is that while you think you're pressing the customer’s “hot buttons,” the reality is they have little or no impact on your proposal score.

But the worst part is that by watering down your insights into high level theme statements, you lose the insights. You talk about them for hours in meetings, but they never make it onto paper in the proposal where they can impact your win probability.

You need to take action. You need to take action on your insights. All that intel you’ve spent so much time gathering…  you need to take action on it or it is meaningless. 

First, you need to itemize your insights. What do you know that matters? What is your information advantage?

Then for each insight, ask yourself, “What should the proposal writers do about it?

Should they use the insight to:

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  1. Make a point in the proposal?
  2. Improve your evaluation score?
  3. Be the benefit or result of your approach?
  4. Subtly ghost the competition by positioning your offering against their weakness?
  5. Address unwritten requirements?
  6. Show a real depth of understanding by showing insight beyond what others know?
  7. Anticipate and mitigate customer concerns?
  8. Show that by selecting your proposal they will not only get RFP compliance, but will also get what your insight tells you they also want?
  9. Properly interpret customer terminology?
  10. Design a better offering?
  11. Provide guidance for making estimates, especially regarding any difference between RFP estimates and reality?
  12. Position what’s going to be written against something in addition to the RFP?

You can’t count on any of these things happening if you don’t identify the actions to be taken based on your insights. 

A list of themes will not do this for you. A list of themes is merely putting the ball in the proposal writers' hands and hoping they’ll discover a play that you didn’t.

To do this manually, you can create a matrix of insights and map it to proposal sections and RFP items like the evaluation criteria. You can do this in a spreadsheet.

The way I prefer to do it is using MustWin Now. In MustWin Now, insights are gathered using Pursuit Capture Forms that:

  • Provide questions that help contributors get to the insights on what they know about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment
  • Enable each insight to be quickly converted into instructions that proposal writers can take action on
  • Enable those insights to be shown to proposal reviewers who can confirm that the design actions were taken and are effective

This is how MustWin Now drives win strategies into the proposal to improve your chances of winning.

Let's discuss your challenges with preparing proposals and winning new business...

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A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.

More information about "Carl Dickson"

Carl Dickson

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

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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