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4 ways to determine what it will take to win

One of the key goals of the MustWin Process is to design your proposal around what it will take to win. It starts with Readiness Reviews to help you collect intelligence about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. Then you need to assess the intelligence you've gathered to determine what it will take to win. This assessment gives you what you need to incorporate what it takes to win into your Content Plan and to turn it into criteria that can be used to validate that the finished proposal reflects what it takes to win.

The tricky part is the assessment, because that is where you turn it from a concept into the black ink on paper you need to win the proposal. Here is some material we have extracted from the parts of the 25cess documentation that guide you through figuring out what it will take to win. It helps to look at what it will take to win from several different perspectives. Here are four different ways to look at things to help you assess what it will take to win:

See also:
  1. What will it take to convince the customer to select you? What motivates the customer? What matters to them? What are their preferences? How would they like the trade-offs made? What impacts their decision making? Do they trust you? What evaluation criteria and procedures do they follow?
  2. What will it take to fulfill their procurement process? If they have no budget, then there is no opportunity. The same is true if they need an approval they can’t get. Even if they have a budget and approval, their process has to result in contract terms and an acquisition strategy that are favorable to you. Customers often get delayed or even stuck as a result of difficulty completing their internal procurement procedures. They may not know how to proceed. What can you do to help? It helps to know their procedures for issuing the solicitation, evaluating the proposals, and making the decisions.
  3. What will it take to design, deliver, describe, and price the best offering? When you are dealing with the details related to preparing a proposal and are dealing with things as they are, sometimes people forget how important it is for the customer to want what you are proposing. Keep in mind that the right offering has to have the right price/value trade-off from the customer’s perspective. Having sufficient knowledge of the variables will help you to price your proposal accurately. Finally, it’s not enough to have the best offering. You also have to do the best job of describing it in the proposal and the customer has to be confident that you will be able to deliver as promised.
  4. What will it take to beat the competition? Most proposals are competitive. Even if there are no other bidders, you are still competing against doing nothing. Your proposal must not only be great, it must be better than all the others. Don’t stop at compliant, keep going beyond acceptable, fly past good, and reach beyond great in order to offer the best in all ways. Everything from your offering to the presentation in the proposal adds up to a story, and the story you tell must be more appealing to the customer than the ones that your competitors tell. Keep in mind that the customer has to trust you more than they trust your competitors for your proposal to have a chance.


These four perspectives reflect the distinction between what the customer needs or wants, and what they have to do in order to make a selection. What it takes to win results from satisfying those two considerations.

We don't mind discussing the theory and foundation behind our process. But all the forms, steps, diagrams, and tools we have developed to take these concepts and implement them are part of what people get when they subscribe to PropLIBRARY.

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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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