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Developing your offering vs. developing your proposal

How you decide what to offer and proposal writing are two very different things

Having the best offering is a key part of what it takes to win. Another way to say this is that the most important ingredient in your proposal is what you are going to propose.

When it comes to planning the content of your proposal, we advocate planning your offering and planning the writing of your proposal separately. When you do both at the same time, the risk compounds itself, and changes in the writing that result from a change in what you want to offer can cause a cascade effect that you might not be able to recover from.  Designing your offering by writing a narrative about it is usually a poor way to approach design.  So you need to think through what you are going to propose, validate it, approve it, and then integrate it into your proposal content.  This is a complicated way of saying that you need to know what you are going to propose before you start writing about it.

Having the best offering requires research

If you think about what it takes to have the best offering, it depends a lot on research.  What does the customer want?  What are their preferences?  How should you handle the trade-offs?  Then there is the creative, innovative side of it, and the need to validate the feasibility of your approach.  And let’s not forget pricing. What is the customer’s budget? Can you be innovative with the business model? How will your pricing compare with that of your competitors?

Readiness Reviews provide a structured approach to getting ready to propose the best offering

This is another example of why it is difficult to start a proposal after RFP release. Not only do you need to discover these answers, but you also want to influence the development of the specifications so that they are at least compatible with what you would like to offer, and preferably give you a competitive advantage. Readiness Reviews give you a structured approach to preparing for RFP release that facilitates achieving these goals.  If having the best offering is the most important ingredient in your proposal, then being ready for RFP release means being ready to propose the best offering.

Readiness Reviews are about getting answers to questions, and achieving goals through action items.  We generally divide them into customer, opportunity, competitive environment, and self-awareness.  With regards to the opportunity, it’s important to not just gather intelligence about it, but also to begin designing your offering.  You need to know what your options are so that you can determine what the customer’s preferences are and influence the specifications before it’s too late.

If you incorporate developing your offering into your Readiness Reviews, then when the RFP is released and you start planning the content of your proposal, you will already know what the right offering is to propose.
 

Return to Proposal Content Plan Implementation Tips or the Proposal Content Planning Topic Hub.

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