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9 sources of inspiration to make the right points in your proposals

Every proposal paragraph should make a point. But what points should they be?

Each and every paragraph in your proposal should make a point. Every sentence within those paragraphs should have its own point. And those points should not be about you. They should not simply describe. They should never make unsubstantiated claims of greatness.

You should provide the information the customer needs, while pointing out why you are the customer’s best alternative. But what should you talk about to make those points? How do you go beyond answering an RFP requirement to make your points? What is it you should add?

To help you find inspiration, here’s a list of points to consider making:

  1. Points that maximize your evaluation score. When the customer includes their evaluation criteria in the RFP, you should make your points in a way that relates to those criteria. Instead of picking your rationale out of the blue, look to the evaluation criteria for what points you need to make. What points can you make that will increase your score?
  2. Points that show why you are the best alternative. If the customer has to choose between competing proposals or alternatives, you should help them discover the reasons why they should pick your proposal over the alternatives.  Think about the decision they have to make and in everything you write link your response to a point that helps them make it. Don't just simply make points that you can do the work, are qualified, and have experience. Make points that prove you are better than the customer's other alternatives.
  3. Points that explain your differentiators. People decide amongst alternatives by looking for the differences, both good and bad. Everything you write should make a point that highlights these differences. If what you are writing is the same as what everyone else might write, you should try harder to make points that highlight what’s special, or what the customer gets out of what you are writing about. Look to the reasons why you are offering what you have chosen for inspiration into why what you've chosen is best.
  4. Points that prove your credibility. Unsubstantiated claims destroy credibility. Rational points increase your credibility. Instead of just saying what you propose, try explaining why what you propose will deliver the desired results. Explain how you know. Prove that it is reliable. Don't expect them to take your word on it.
  5. Points that show how you'll fulfill the customer's wants, needs, goals, and aspirations. Don’t just respond to what the customer has asked for. Explain how your approach to delivering what they want will result in them achieving their goals. What you offer is the realization of their goals and not just giving them what they asked for. Every competitor will be offering that. You should offer to meet their requirements in a way that also fulfills the things they want or aspire to. To the customer this will be value added. And it may just be what they are really looking for.
  6. Points about the effectiveness and value of your offering. What makes what you are offering effective? What makes it a better value? Don’t just claim to be the best alternative or value and weaken your credibility. Increase your credibility by explaining what makes your offering the most effective and the best value. Explain the reasons why you made the trade-off decisions that you did and why that makes your offering better than any that went the other way. These are the reasons the customer needs to see in order to decide your proposal is their best alternative.
  7. Points about what matters. Details are boring. It’s what matters about those details that’s interesting. Making points about what matters makes your proposal more meaningful. This increases your credibility. It’s also a good way to get the customer to compare everyone else’s proposal to yours, assessing whether they recognize what matters or not as well as you do. Don't just simply convince yourself that you have the best offering. Make your proposal matter the most.
  8. Points that prove you can anticipate and manage the risks. Risks matter. But it’s not the risks themselves that a customer wants to see. It’s how your approach mitigates those risks. So making points about the problems your approach anticipates and prevents adds value. This is how you prove that you are reliable and will deliver as promised. When there are no other differentiators, being more likely to deliver as promised can make you the best value.
  9. Points that prove the customer will get what you're promising. You are just a vendor. A sales person. Your proposal is a collection of promises. And if your proposal starts off with unsubstantiated claims you’re a sketchy vendor with questionable promises. To counter this, you need to be transparent and verifiable. Don’t just say what you will do, but say how you’ll verify that it was done correctly and how they’ll be able to see it as clearly as you do with nothing hidden. Given a choice between two otherwise equal proposals, the customer will select the one that is most likely to deliver as promised. Make the points required to be that proposal.
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Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, 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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