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How to explain why the customer should select your proposal

You may think you’ve given them the best reasons, but have you read your proposal like an evaluator?

When the customer reads your proposal there are many reasons they might decide your proposal is their best alternative and select it for award. The goal of proposal writing is to enable them to reach a conclusion in your favor. Some of the reasons they might do this include:

See also:
  • They can trust you to deliver as promised better than any alternative
  • You know what needs to be done and how to do it better than any alternative
  • You bring lower odds of failure or problems than any alternative
  • You are ready to start when they need you to and able to deliver by when they need it
  • Qualifications and experience that enable you to achieve the best outcomes for them
  • You have the most resources
  • You know how to overcome the challenges better than any alternative
  • You bring the most insight into what matters and how to accomplish their goals
  • You have the most strengths and the fewest weaknesses
  • You offer the best value or the lowest price, depending on their preference
  • You have something no one else has that they want
  • They see how to give you the top evaluation score

All of these require that they see what they need to reach that conclusion.

When I review proposals what I usually see is…

What the customer will conclude when they read your proposal depends on what they see. Here is what I usually see when I review proposals for companies:

  • A lot of claims. Often about what the company thinks their strengths are. What I don’t see enough of are proof points. Often the strengths claimed are the exact same strengths everyone else bidding will claim.
  • A lot of description. Usually about the company, its qualifications, and its experience. What I don’t see enough of are the reasons why those details matter or will impact the customer or the project outcome.
  • A lot about what you will do or deliver. This usually covers the proposed approaches and things that will be done to fulfill the RFP requirements. What I don’t see enough of are the reasons why the company has chosen to do things that way and how that makes their approaches deliver better outcomes.

Learn how to read your proposals

Now read your proposal like a proposal evaluator instead of someone trying to point out everything great about themselves. Read your proposal like someone who depends on getting what they need and has to reach a decision about which proposal to select. This is important if you want to see things the way a proposal evaluation will. What you want the evaluator to see is:

  • Proof points that support your strengths. Better yet, strengths that are differentiated, with a solid rationale for them, that prove that they deliver better outcomes.
  • A minimum of description detail and more about why they matter and how you will leverage them to do things better than anyone else bidding.
  • Being able to do what the customer asked does not make you their best alternative. Delivering the best outcome does. While you need to demonstrate that you can credibly fulfill the requirements to be considered, you really must prove you can deliver the best outcome to win.

These are the things that will enable them to reach the conclusion that they should select your proposal. If you want them to see these things, you need to change the focus of your proposal writing.

What you need to be able to give the evaluators what they need

The process of preparing a proposal is not a production process. It is a process that starts by discovering what it will take to win, figuring out how to structure a document that enables the customer to select your proposal, planning not only what to write but how to write it, performing the actual writing, conducting quality validation to ensure that what got written reflects what it will take to win, then performing final production and submission. This is the full scope of the MustWin Process and what our MustWin Now software supports. 

Whether the proposal is small or large, all of this needs to be done. And done better than your competitors do it. If you are only doing a single proposal, you may try mightily. If your company does a lot of proposals, then you need to structure things so that you accomplish them every single time. The return on investment for winning more of what you bid makes it all worthwhile.

So why will the customer select your next proposal? It’s not because of how great you are. It’s because of what they see in your proposal. Will they see what they need to conclude that you are their best alternative?

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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