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The not-so-obvious truth about using AI on proposals

AI makes it easy to do the wrong things quickly

AI can very easily enable you to make the same strategic mistakes in volume…

You can write a lot of bad proposals quickly, with or without AI. Getting good at writing bad proposals isn't going to help your win rate. AI makes it so much easier and we are attracted to that. But they are still bad proposals. Why are the proposals bad? Because they:

See also:
  • Are written from your perspective instead of being written from the customer's perspective. 
  • Describe the topic instead of showing insight about the topic.
  • Either don't make a point, or make the wrong point.
  • Don't define proposal quality and don't have written proposal quality criteria.
  • Don't simultaneously consider how to interpret the requirements, what is being proposed, what you know about the customer beyond the RFP, your win strategies, the competitive environment, price, compliance, contractual terms and conditions, the wording of the evaluation criteria, and the customer's decision-making process, culture, and evaluation procedures.

Can AI do these things? Maybe. Not really. Definitely not the last one. And certainly not well enough to win. Maybe better in the future? 

Most companies are not very good at doing all of these without AI. How is AI going to look at your old bad proposals and produce winning proposals from them? If you are counting on AI being able to make some improvement on your old proposals, you may be right. But that won't be competitive. Your win rate won't improve because lots of companies will be doing the same, and some companies will do much, much better. If that's how you use AI, you'll end up left behind.

To effectively using AI you should:

  • First understand how to consistently produce winning proposals without AI. You can't train, assess, and perform QA/QC unless you are the leader.
  • Understand which parts of the process are suitable for AI and which parts not only require human involvement, but specifically require understanding of what it will take to win.

In the future, AIs will analyze your win rate and get good at determining what it will take to win. That's years away. Right now we can't even trust ChatGPT not to give away your secrets to others or make up its findings. Even if they released better AIs today, you don't have the win rate data to train them on. Most companies aren't even clear (or honest) about why they win or lose their bids. There is no record of the decisions or explanation for why you wrote the proposal the way you did. It will take years of bidding to have good data to prevent an AI garbage in/garbage out problem.

If you have a bad proposal process before AI, will AI make it worse? Ask an AI how to improve your proposal process and you'll get a mixture of good suggestions and really bad suggestions. You will not get a solution that takes into account the nature of what your company offers, the contents of the RFPs you bid, the availability of resources in your company, your corporate culture (the real one, not the one you think you have), your competitive environment, and your bid history with the reasons why you made the decisions you did. That is the input required to optimize your process. Without it, AI will definitely not be able to provide a fully integrated solution to improving your win rate.

But someone else will take the time to prepare this input and their use of AI will be far superior to yours if you don't. While you use AI to get a little better, some of your competitors will use it to get a lot better and your win rate may actually go down, even though you're using AI!

AI can't take away the burden of figuring out how to win and implementing a process that can consistently do that while working through other people. But it can be incredibly useful for inspiration, discovering options, and brainstorming approaches. Once you identify what needs to be done. Once you take the lead.

You might want to start that today. Getting ready for AI means getting the data you'll need to train it ready. It means reengineering your proposal process to effectively flow the right information in the right format at every step before you try to add AI to the mix. It means discovering what it takes to win proposals and getting good at preparing proposals that consistently outperform your competitors, also before adding AI to the mix.

If you expect AI to just do all that for you, then you're setting yourself up to be uncompetitive and fail in the AI future. You will lose to companies that can better train and use their AIs because they prepared in the right ways.

People who look for AI to do their homework for them are going to be at a competitive dis-advantage. AI will be far more important and way to useful to just let that happen.

Preparing government contractors for AI and radical organizational and competitive changes... I just started a new LinkedIn group and would like to invite you to join it. The changes that artificial intelligence is brining are going to affect your company even more than you anticipate. How will you remain competitive when all the rules change? Join us as we try not only keep up, but stay one step ahead...
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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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