Before you can create proposal criteria, you have to understand what it will take to win
- Proposal Quality Validation starts with identifying what it will take to win. This is the standard used to measure quality against.
- The MustWin Process facilitates identifying what it will take to win by collecting the intelligence you will need during the pre-RFP phase.
The MustWin Process will also guide you through preparing a list to document what it will take to win. This list is the first step in providing a set of quality criteria to measure your proposal against. It is also critical for developing your win strategies and the themes that will articulate to the customer why they should select you. Collectively, the items on your list should add up to what it will take to win the opportunity. Your “What it will take to win” list should include:
- The actions you must take
- The things you must know or information you must gather
- Anything you must have, prerequisites, or dependencies in order to complete the tasks
- The results you must achieve
The following areas should be explored and considered in order to develop a list of items that define what it will take to win the opportunity. Within each area, consider what items should be on your “What it will take to win” list:
- Readiness at RFP Release: There is a great deal that you must know about the customer, the opportunity, the competitive environment, and even yourself in order to win. Most of this information should be collected during the pre-RFP phase so that you can act on it immediately when the RFP is released. Many of the questions asked during the MustWin Readiness Review process are designed to lead you towards knowing what it will take to win. You should mine the Readiness Review forms for inspiration for your “What it will take to win” list.
- Customer’s Evaluation Criteria: If the customer is conducting a formal evaluation, they should publish the criteria they will use to select the winner. Before the RFP is released, you should attempt to discover what those criteria will be. You can also use previous RFPs to provide clues. If they do not publish written evaluation criteria, then you should gather intelligence regarding what they think is important and what will impact their decision, preferably weighted or in order of (the customer’s) priority. The customer’s evaluation criteria are the most important consideration in designing the proposal, determining what you must do in writing in order to win, and assessing the quality of your proposal during development. Your “What it will take to win” list should include items related to responding to the customer’s evaluation criteria.
- Competitive Advantages: In order to win, you must be a better choice than any of your competitors. Competitive advantage can come from many sources, including offering superior benefits (and not merely better features), a proposal that achieves the highest evaluation score, an excellent relationship with the customer, and outstanding references. Your “What it will take to win” list should include all of the items related to finding, identifying, and articulating your competitive advantages.
- Win Strategies: Win strategies are the things you plan to do in order to win. An example is hiring a Project Manager with particular qualifications. Another might be opening a local office or teaming with a particular company. Win strategies can and should be related to achieving a competitive advantage. Everything that you must do to identify and implement your win strategies should make it onto your “What it will take to win” list.
- Themes: Themes are how you articulate why the customer should select you (as opposed to a competitor). They provide customers with reasons to justify their decision. Your themes will be based on a combination of the evaluation criteria, and your win strategies and competitive advantages. Your “What it will take to win” list should include identifying your themes, incorporating them into your proposal, and validating their implementation.
- Completion of Proposal Plans: Since planning is critical to winning, it makes sense that successfully preparing, validating, and implementing your proposal plans should make it on to your “What it will take to win” list.
- Execution: Follow-through is critical. This means you must track progress towards the completion of the plans and then validate that they have been executed successfully and that the desired outcomes are achieved.