How do you get an early start on a proposal?

It’s hard to start early on a proposal. And not because it’s hard to know when a proposal is coming. You often get advance notice of an RFP release. It may be your own recompete, the result of a sources sought notice, or an RFI, customer forecast, or other announcement. So when you know an RFP is going to be released in the next few weeks, what do you do?

It’s too late to start gathering intel about the customer or the opportunity. Maybe you can scope out the competition, but you probably won’t be able to do a very deep assessment, or even identify all of the players. If you started much earlier, the pre-RFP Proposal Content Plan, just like you normally would. Only now when you do this, the instructions to the writers are much easier to create because you just combine the answers with instructions about addressing the RFP requirements.

Often proposal outlines and writing assignments are limited to statements like:

  • Address the requirements in section…
  • Explain our approach to…
  • Demonstrate how we…

But with this new approach, you can prepare instructions like:

  • Address the requirements in section... Make sure you emphasize…
  • Explain how our approach to… will result in…
  • Demonstrate how the way we… addresses this issue that matters to the customer…

Even better, you can reverse them and write them from the customer’s perspective:

  • Emphasize how… when explaining how we address this requirement…
  • Explain how the customer will get… because of how our approach to…
  • Demonstrate how the things that matter to the customer… benefit from the way we… to address the issue of…

When you ask inexperienced proposal contributors to write from the customer’s perspective and they have to figure out both the benefit or what the customer will get and the response to the requirements, and put the benefit first instead of last, many can’t do it. But if you give them the result and ask them to lead with it and explain how the response to the requirements produces it, you’ll get better results.

By avoiding writing the proposal narrative before the RFP is released, you don’t waste effort. By instead answering the questions that drive your strategies, you gain the context you need to not only accelerate proposal writing after the RFP is released, but also to create a proposal that has a better chance of winning because it goes beyond simply responding to the RFP and addresses the things that matter.

What we’re creating for PropLIBRARY Subscribers is the list of questions that drive your strategies and identify the all-important context. We’re creating one for each section of a typical proposal. When we add it to the PropLIBRARY Knowledgebase our subscribers will be able to just go get it, customize it, and use it to get an early start on their proposals. If you are a PropLIBRARY Subscriber, you'll see it showing up here over the next week or two. PropLIBRARY Subscribers already get our documentation for the pre-RFP Readiness Review process and post-RFP Proposal Content Planning. They also get access to our Recipe Library, with dozens of proposal section recipes that can be incorporated into your early start and Proposal Content Plans. The content we’re adding to the MustWin Process based on this new technique will enable them to get a jump on the competition and create even stronger proposals.

If you want a peek inside PropLIBRARY and the MustWin Process, here is a link to our demonstration area. Or better, just check out the new ebook we published detailing our Proposal Content Planning recommendations. If you buy the book, you'll get a coupon worth double the cost of the book that you can use to upgrade to a PropLIBRARY Subscription for less!


Access to premium content items is limited to PropLIBRARY Subscribers

A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.


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.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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Our Master Proposal Startup Information Checklist can be used in a number of different ways. We find it to be especially useful for people who don’t have either a formal process or structure. You don’t have to have some big “process” with all the implementation effort and training that implies to pull out a handy checklist and use it to do things better. That’s what this book is all about.

And for those of you who do have a formal process, you will find topics and ideas in here that you can use to enhance what you have and take it to a higher level.