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How using AI the wrong way can cause you to lose proposals

Don't be one of the many companies that are setting themselves up to use AI to write losing proposals

If you begin by asking “Should you use AI on proposals?” you are at risk of using AI to create losing proposals. It’s the wrong question to start with. 

The issues with using AI on proposals are not whether to use it, or even whether AI or human writers are better. The main issue with using AI is not just how to use it, but how to use it competitively. It gets to the heart of what it takes to win proposals.

If you think about it, the number of losing proposals prepared by AI will be about the same as the number of losing proposals prepared by humans. The number of awards being made and therefore the number of winning proposals will remain about the same, even if AI lets you submit more proposals. In fact, AIs could produce a great deal more losing proposals if lots of companies decide it costs very little to throw an AI at it and submit a proposal. Using AI to submit more proposals to more customers may not result in any more wins that you are getting now. 

As a side note, I find it interesting that humans submitting more ordinary proposals to more customers also rarely increases the number of wins. Losing in volume does not increase revenue. The key is the difference between proposals that are ordinary and proposals that are great

The right question to ask

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The most important thing about AI and proposals is whether you will win more proposals using AI than you will without using AI. If you want to win proposals, you need to ask “How should I use AI to win competitive proposals?” And it’s not simply about whether you can be more competitive by today’s standards, it’s about how to win against other AI-written proposals. 

If you give two AIs a statement of work from an RFP and tell them to write a compliant response, they (probably) will. One will get a higher evaluation score and win.

If, after you get a response to the SOW, you ask one of the AIs to optimize the wording of the response based on the evaluation criteria, that AI will have a substantial advantage over the first and be far more likely to win.

If you take two responses like this and then you ask one of the AIs to incorporate some insights you have about the customer’s needs and preferences, it will lead to a proposal that has a clear advantage over all of them.

The key takeaway here is that going into a proposal having insights about the customer's needs and preferences enables you to better train your AI to beat all the other AIs.

But there’s a problem

There’s just one big, fat, ugly problem with this. Where do those customer insights come from?

The answer is: offline.

That’s right, the secret to beating all the AIs comes from what you do offline.

It comes from your customer relationships. It comes from your ability to gather intelligence that no one else has. It comes from assessing the intelligence you gather and turning it into win strategies.

A simple scenario shows why

Let’s say the RFP lists the customer’s goals in the background section. This is fairly common. An AI might skip them since they aren’t really requirements. If you’re smart you’ll tell your AI to provide a compliance response that achieves their goals.

Unfortunately, you have a competitor who frequently talks to the customer. Your competitor knows that the customer has some constraints. Those constraints could be financial, political, or simply the preferences of management. So your competitor tells their AI to provide a compliant response that achieves the customer's goals while also addressing their constraints. 

Their AI beats your AI.

They win, you lose. 

It’s all about how you train your AI

Winning proposals in an AI world isn’t all that different than winning them before AIs. You have to:

  1. Discover what it will take to win and do that offline
  2. Turn that into a plan for writing your proposal content
  3. Explain the plan to your proposal writers 
  4. Verify that your proposal writers followed the plan

You can simply replace “proposal writers” with “AI.” Nothing has really changed.

Should you use AI to write your proposals? That’s an easy “yes.” But it’s also the wrong question to ask. If you want to win, you’ll ask “How can I train my AI better than anyone else will train theirs?” This will quickly be followed by "Where will I get the customer insights I need to win?" And this last question applies whether you use AI or not. It is also the secret to how you can beat companies using AI if you are not.

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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