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How to turn your customer, opportunity, and competitive intelligence into winning insights

With 20 topics to consider and seven examples for how it could impact your win strategies

You know things about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. But what do you know and what do you do about it? Must people just ponder it hoping lightning strikes. But here is a more organized way to leverage what you know into winning your proposals.

It starts by making lists. It’s really nice when the customer does that for you. For example, if they give you a list of goals, a list of evaluation criteria, and a list of requirements. But not everything comes packaged in neat little lists. Sometimes you have to parse them out yourself.

Here are some good list topics to start with. In each topic, simply list the facts. 

See also:

Customer concerns

Evaluation criteria
Price to win

Your advantages

Win strategies
Proof points

Competitive environment





How do they all relate to each other?

Next you match up the items in your various lists. There are several ways to do this, but a good all-around tool is a spreadsheet. Can you lay out your lists so that the ones that are related are on the same rows? Can you read a row and see everything that is related to each other?

What you usually find is they don’t match up very well. Each topic can have overlaps and gaps. But this can be turned into a good thing. 

The gaps and overlaps become the inspiration for your proposal win strategies.

When your lists don’t match up well, you are gaining valuable insights about how to win:

  • How many times are they actually evaluating experience? I’ve seen it show in the technical approach, staffing plan, and the past performance volumes. That favors a company with lots of experience. 
  • You might find that most of the goals are related to only a few of the evaluation criteria. 
  • Do more than one of the evaluation criteria overlap? Is it in effect double counting? Or does it indicate an interest area with more than one application or set of issues?
  • Are there any requirements that are not evaluated?
  • How do you and your competitor's strengths and weaknesses match up with the requirements, evaluation criteria, and each other?
  • How do your differentiators match up with everything else? Do they indicate a differentiated advantage that you want to focus on?
  • Are there issues like risk or quality that, while not evaluated, can be mapped to their goals or requirements that are evaluated?

When you think about what the gaps and overlaps mean, you can discover strategies that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you. How do you exploit your strengths or cope with the issues? 

Use your insights to bring meaning to your proposals

In addition to the strategic implications, your insights can be a valuable tool for addressing your response to the customer’s requirements in context. You can go beyond simply saying that “you’ll do” whatever they are asking for and say what you’ll accomplish. It gives you a cheat sheet for winning. For any given proposal paragraph you can look up what might be related and pick the goal, issue, evaluation criteria, outcome, etc., that is the most relevant to the topic you are writing about. Instead of simply making a description or a claim you can make a connection or alignment with something that matters. You can turn the simple things you will do into things that have a much bigger meaning. Do this consistently and you will gain a competitive advantage. 

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

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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, 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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