An information advantage is the most important ingredient for a winning proposal. Relationship marketing can be measured by its ability to deliver an information advantage.
Most companies are exposed to plenty of information about their bids. But they don’t necessary flow it to the right places or transform it into what is needed to win. Being able to maximize the advantage you derive from the information you have is a key skill for companies that do business by winning proposals.
The key is an integrated approach.
Your Strategic Plan defines your markets, targets, and high-level positioning. That positioning provides guidance and acts as a filter during the Readiness Reviews of the pre-RFP phase. The Readiness Reviews, starting from lead identification, accumulate information about the opportunity, the customer, and the competitive environment, as well as about yourself.
One of the ways that Readiness Reviews help you be prepared to win at RFP release is to help you consider what to offer the customer, how to position it, and what your win strategies and themes should be. This enables you to start the proposal knowing what benefits and results to build your proposal around. It also enables you to articulate what it will take to win and turn it into criteria to use during Proposal Quality Validation.
One of the things that become clear is that if you base your proposal on the RFP and what people carry around in their heads, it will not be competitive against a company that starts their proposal with an information advantage.
The process is not sequential. While you do want to accumulate information at each stage, you don’t necessarily obtain that information in a particular order. That is why you need to accumulate information that is related to what you need to win the proposal, and transform the data you collect into what you need to say in the proposal. It is your ability to do this that determines how successful you are at maximizing the advantage you gain from the information you are exposed to.