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How to achieve proposal writing that wins over all competitors

Filling these gaps is the secret to great proposal writing

Most proposal writing is good. But not great. Good proposal writing is not competitive.

Most proposal writing sounds beneficial. Most proposal writing shows that the vendor is fully qualified and meets all the requirements. It’s positive. It’s good. It often pleases The Powers That Be because it sounds good. But good proposal writing is not competitive.

Every company that will make it into the competitive range will have written a proposal that is fully qualified, meets all the requirements, and has a competitive price. They will all be good proposals. But the winner will outcompete them all. Good proposal writing is not competitive.

To make your proposal writing great enough to win over all competitors, you must base your writing on what it will take to win.

This requires more than a good lead.

Great proposal writing that reflects what it will take to win requires having a good lead with:
Enough insight into what matters to the customer that you have an information advantage, combined with a great offering presented from the customer's perspective.

Believe in yourself. But not too much.

See also:
Great Proposals

Everyone who submits a proposal believes they have the best offering. But they often deceive themselves about how much insight they have. They don’t see that as a disqualifier and the result is they lose far more than they win.

Winning over all competitors is easier when you don’t deceive yourself about how much insight you have into the customer, the opportunity, and the competitive environment. But even those with real insight often fail to drive it into the document that closes the sale.

What to do about it

Winning requires that your proposal writers:

  • Take customer insight and use it to write a proposal from the customer’s perspective.
  • Prove that your offering is not only superior and meets the requirements, but that it matters in ways that make it the customer’s best alternative.
  • Articulate your messages in a way that is optimized to get the maximum score against the evaluation criteria.

It turns out that proposal writing has less to do with writing and more to do with:

It’s unfortunate that hardly any proposal writers show up knowing all these things. Whether your proposal staff come from an editorial, technical writing, engineering, marketing, or other background, they will have gaps. If they are inexperienced, the gaps will be huge. If your proposal writers are not experts in opportunity capture, how do you expect them to accomplish that with only an outline to guide them? 

Filling these gaps is the secret to great proposal writing.

Proposal writing is a process

The proposal process should be designed to bring this information to the proposal writers so the gaps get filled. If proposal writing starts with just an outline, you are not going to get a draft that achieves all of these goals. Your proposal writing will not be competitive. Your win rate will suffer.

Great proposal writing is rather important if you want to close the sale with a win. So it only makes sense that proposal writing be based on an understanding of what it will take to capture that win. If you’re not talking about how to build the proposal around your insights, a plan for what to write based on what it will take to win, and how the writing will be presented before the proposal writing even starts, you’re just not trying to win. Making a submission is not the same as trying to win. Even if the proposal is good.

Exercise-based training for proposal writing. The online training that comes with a subscription to PropLIBRARY addresses topics like the fundamentals of proposal writing and how to respond to an RFP with the right words. This is in addition the MustWin Process documentation that can help make sure you deliver the information proposal writers need to win, and MustWin Now, our online tool with forms for automating how you collect this information and turn it into guidance for proposal writers.
Want to know what the founder of PropLIBRARY would recommend? Just ask me.... I’m passing some of my time in isolation talking to people free of charge and assessing how to improve their pursuit and capture processes in the new world we find ourselves in. We can talk about reengineering how you go about winning business and come out of this better than you ever were before. Use the widget below to grab any open spot on my calendar before they’re filled and I’ll do a free assessment with you.
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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.

Carl Dickson

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

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