Congratulations. You are a skilled professional. You have enough experience to know what works well and what doesn’t. But is that enough to be the best? Do you truly aspire to be the best anymore? Can you even define what the best is?
Learning to write great proposals will not only help you define it, it will help you achieve it.
Proposal writing requires learning what it will take to be the best alternative. Or simply to be the best. It’s not about incremental improvement. It’s about understanding what it will take to be the best and then figuring out what to do to become it.
Proposals require you to measure where you are against what will make you the best alternative for the customer. Proposal writing teaches you that you can’t reach a plateau and stay there. Incumbency is not enough to win. Proposals are about beating the incumbent. Proposals are about beating the companies that want to beat the incumbent. Forget all that noise about having a “continuous improvement process.” Working on proposals will teach you to embrace change and to change faster than anyone else.
Growth is the source of all opportunity in a company. But it’s not about the money. It’s about positioning for the future so that you can be far more than you are. This is true at the company level, it is true at the project level, and it is true at the personal level.
Working on proposals also teaches you to collaborate with all stakeholders, both inside your company and outside your company, to create something that is the best.
Proposals are about understanding the requirements. All of them. Including the ones that aren’t written. Proposal writing requires you to understand the context as well as the specifications. Learning to write proposals will teach you that the meaning of specifications is to be found in the context, and what you do will be far more effective when it addresses the whole context.
Proposal writing will show you how to find the value in what you do. It’s easy to fall into the daily grind of just doing what you have to do. It’s good to realize that there’s hidden value in what you do without thinking much about it. It’s even better to be able to express that value. Because every day in that daily grind, you are making decisions that add value. When you express it, you bring meaning to your work.
Proposals are about authenticity. The worst proposals I’ve written were last minute affairs where instead of the folks who understand the work to be done, I had to be the one to discover the value and create a vision for what the future could be, while working with a team that was not creative enough to see themselves in that future and who just barely tolerated it because they thought it’s what was needed to win. Proposals should be something you get to do and not something you have to do. The best proposals I’ve worked on were with teams who hadn’t thought of expressing their value that way, but got excited by it and realized their efforts could amount to something meaningful. A proposal like that ends not only with a great submission, but also with people who are changed and ready to take on the future.
And that’s something that can help them take their technical skills to a whole new level.
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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.
The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.
Carl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.
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