Where do better proposals come from?

Achieving and maintaining a high win rate requires constant evolution

Better proposals require becoming a better company. The question “How can your company do proposals better?” starts by asking “How can your company do the things you write about better?" and that in turn becomes "How can you be a better company?"

Want a better management plan? Start by determining what better management would look like. Ask yourself what you have to do to deliver that. Then become that kind of company.

Want a better technical approach? Start by determining what a better offer might be and what you have to turn yourself into to in order to deliver it.

Want better pricing? Quit asking how you can shave another nickel and ask what you can do to disrupt how performance is accomplished. Then become an insightful company like that. At all levels.

Every day we encounter friction. Problems that are easy to ignore or put off until tomorrow to solve, but ultimately that wears us down. If we take the path of least resistance today and are able to get by and pay our bills, we can create a nice little comfort zone for ourselves. While it lasts. But changing that would risk today’s comfort. And so it becomes easier to look for neat, tidy, and low-risk incremental improvements that don’t rock the boat. People have their jobs and it is work. But steady work. If that’s where you want to stay, you can stop reading here.

Doing things better starts with articulating how. Proposals are a great place to start becoming better because they require you to articulate how you are going to do things better than your competitors. Maintaining a high win rate requires constant evolution.

Better proposals come from becoming the solution and not just going through the motions

See also:
Organizational Development

A company that defines itself by how it is now, is not thinking about what else it could be. Instead of thinking about what they could become, they just want to be more. The proposals they create simply describe themselves as they are. However, a company that defines itself by what it wants to become, writes proposals based on how they can be better. They win more and are far more likely to become something great.

This is why companies end up submitting proposals written from their own perspective instead of the customer’s perspective. They write about what they can do, what their qualifications are, what their approaches will be. Companies focused on becoming what the market needs or what will help their customer write about what problems they will solve, how their qualifications result in better deliverables, and how customers will benefit from their approaches. While this wording sounds subtle, in the proposals I review the difference is striking and has a major impact on their success.

The problem runs deeper than simply whether a company is focused on evolving, changing, and becoming better. It impacts staff as well. Are the people working on your proposals empowered to change the company in order to win? Sure that might need to be discussed first, but do they spend their time thinking about better approaches, or do they spend their time living within a structure they can’t change, typically focused exclusively on RFP compliance? Do your staff see their mission as doing proposals or as winning proposals?

This is the stuff that culture is made of

It starts with how the company hires its staff. Does it hire people to do a task and lighten everybody’s load? Or does it hire staff to make the company better? Is it hiring proposal staff to enable the company to do more proposals? Or is it hiring staff to help the company become what it needs to be to win its proposals? This is the stuff that culture is made of.

Is the role of executives to run the company or to transform the company? Are they incentivized to become a little more of what they are, but to stay in their comfort zone? Or are they incentivized to make the changes needed to disrupt the competition? If you are an executive reading this, what kind of company are you creating? This is the stuff that culture is made of.

Transforming your proposals can transform your company, but only if you let it

A company that describes itself, is what it is. But a company that is not satisfied with being what it is now and wants to evolve writes proposals that redefine the limitations. Proposals can be the tail that wags the dog. They can change people, processes, tools, and even policy. They can change priorities. They can change how people interact. But this is only true for companies that don’t ignore their own proposals. Staff working on proposal can be change agents. But only if they are allowed. If they’ve never been allowed, they won’t even know how. It will take a lot of encouragement. And it will only succeed if the staff who perform the work if you win don’t ignore what it said in the proposal. 

Writing proposals from the customer’s perspective is not simply about getting the customer to like you more. Writing proposals from the customer’s perspective is the first step in gaining insight about what you need to become. 

So who are you? And more importantly, who will you be tomorrow?
 

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. 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.

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