13 examples of how knowing how to do proposals the wrong way can improve their quality

In our continuing series on how to do proposals The Wrong Way, we’ve seen the power that comes from doing the opposite of what the best practices say you should do. In the webinar we did last week on the topic, we showed 20 different techniques for doing proposals The Wrong Way. These techniques are for dealing with adverse circumstances where the best practices don’t apply. Use them inappropriately and they can cause you to lose. But if you have no choice and may otherwise be unable to submit anything, they can potentially save the day. Or at least let you submit something so that the loss isn’t entirely your fault.

One of the benefits of learning how to do proposals The Wrong Way is that forever after, you will recognize when someone else is trying to pull those tricks on you. Most of the time, people do it subconsciously and not on purpose. But either way, you don’t want to see them in a proposal you are trying to win.

So now we’re going to turn things around again and talk about what to look for when you are trying to win a proposal and some well meaning fool is taking a shortcut that can undermine your chances of winning.

Learn to see what the writer is focusing on and question whether it is the right thing. Most of the techniques are forms of misdirection aimed at avoiding writing about what you don’t know.

Are they:

  1. Writing about intent and commitment instead of what they will actually do?
  2. Writing about experience instead of how they will fulfill the requirements?
  3. Writing about capabilities instead of results?
  4. Using the words “like, about, nearly, almost, more than, less than, etc.” to avoid commitment?
  5. Simply stating that they will comply with the requirements, without saying how?
  6. Positioning to hide their weakness, as in "being innovative and bringing fresh insights and new ideas" because in reality they don’t know the customer or their environment?
  7. Dropping in words and phrases they found using Google instead of showing real insight?
  8. Using things like “flexibility,” being a “partner,” or preparing for “all contingencies” as a way of being everything to everybody and hiding that they don’t know what the customer really wants?
  9. Redefining the requirement or limiting it with assumptions because they don’t know the real scope?
  10. Writing about things instead of actually identifying them?
  11. Using passive voice to hide that they don’t know how something actually happens?
  12. Planning to have a plan instead of actually saying what they will do?
  13. Focused completely on compliance instead of the customer’s goals?

 

When you’ve used these techniques to cover your own lack of information or weakness, it becomes much easier to recognize them in someone else’s writing. That can help you get rid of them and replace them with something that will help you win. Turn the statements above around and you’ve got a good list of what you should write about in order to win.


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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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