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Win more proposals by focusing on these 6 areas that matter

Are your proposals losing because they don't matter to the customer?

When you write a proposal, it should be based on what it will take to win. The challenge with that is that what it will take to win may be different for every bid. You can probably anticipate some of the things that are typically part of what it will take to win, but with every bid there can be differences that matter. Understanding what it will take to win is mostly based on discovering what matters:

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  1. What matters to the customer? Customers have needs. But they can’t simply go buy what they want. They have to follow their organization's procurement process. The buyer will have lots of action items along the way. They have to make decisions and get approvals. At each step, concerns like trust and risk factor into those decisions. And while price is always a concern, what matters about the price can change. All of these things matter to the customer. But some matter more than others. What are their needs? What are their priorities? What are their preferences? What do they have to do to get their needs fulfilled? 
  2. What matters about the opportunity? If you are offering to fulfill a customer’s need, then the customer will consider your offer in the context of the things that matters about it, like the results they are looking for, what their preferences are, what resources are relevant, who the stakeholders are, what their role is, and what’s impacting the schedule. But the question for you is why do you matter in relationship to the things that matter about the opportunity to the customer.
  3. What matters about the competitive environment? What you are proposing will not be the only offering or alternative available to the customer. For the customer, this is a choice between alternatives. They will consider what matters about each alternative. Specifications, performance, experience, trust, risk, relationships, cost, and more can all matter. But how much they matter to any particular bid depends on the circumstances. Your ability to win the proposal depends on whether what you propose conveys why it matters more than all the other alternatives. You may feel confident that what you offer is better. But unless you make that matter to the customer, then it just doesn't matter. 
  4. What matters about you? When buying a commodity, the vendor hardly matters. Customers will switch vendors for a lower price when the vendor doesn't matter. However, when buying a complex service or a solution to an important problem, what matters to the customer is more than just your claim of being able to provide it. What matters to them will be whether they can trust that you will deliver as promised. Most of the questions and information requested in an RFP is to evaluate this simple issue. What matters about you isn't your experience, your qualifications, your capabilities, or your resources. What matters is whether they can trust that you will deploy these things in a way that reliably delivers on what you have proposed. That's a long way of saying what matters about you is whether you prove your claims. 
  5. What matters about the RFP? When the RFP comes out, it matters. It matters so much that some companies forget everything else that matters. But what is it about the RFP that matters, when it comes to what it will take to win? It’s more than just the requirements, instructions, and evaluation criteria. Gaps, ambiguities, and conflicts matter. The deadline matters. Contract types, terms, and the pricing model matter. Your ability to differentiate while responding to the RFP matters greatly. And what it will take to get the top score during evaluation matters more than anything else.
  6. What you do matters. What actions should you take? What processes should you follow? Did you prepare effectively? How will you execute your plans? What will your strategies be and how should you position yourself regarding the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment? The actions you take matter and impact whether you ultimately are able to achieve what it will take to win.

If you consider the six areas above, you can identify the criteria that should drive every aspect of your pursuit. Another way of saying it is that every aspect of your process should be driven by what matters. The process you follow to pursue each bid should do more than just make nice with the customer and submit a proposal by the deadline. Your process should discover what matters, so that you can deliver a proposal that is built from the ground up around what it will take to win.

"What matters?" is a question. It is a question that can only be answered if you have the right information. If you want your proposal to matter the most, then you need to start the proposal with an information advantage that enables you to provide the best answer to "What matters?"

That is exactly what the MustWin Process provided in PropLIBRARY is designed to do. It is also why we built a pre-RFP pursuit and capture tool and a proposal input tool into MustWin Now, and designed them to drive what you learn about what matters right into the proposal.

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

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More information about "Carl Dickson"

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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