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What happens when you build the proposal process around the pricing instead of the writing?

What does the proposal process look like from the pricing perspective?

Proposal specialists tend to obsess on building a process based on writing and reviewing. Pricing is an after-thought. What happens when you reverse that? What happens when you build the process around what it takes to produce a winning price proposal instead?

What does the proposal process look like from the pricing perspective?

A failure to integrate pricing puts your win rate at just as much of a risk as a reduction in the quality of the narrative proposal. Maybe even more of a risk.

In order to prepare competitive proposal pricing, the pricing experts require input that answers their key questions. When their questions are not answered, you can have a disconnect between what you intend to offer and its competitiveness. When their questions are not answered in a timely manner, this is often not discovered until the very end of the proposal, resulting in rapid, unplanned, and high-risk changes to the proposal that put your win rate in jeopardy. 

The pricing process is driven by these key questions:

See also:
  • What are the strategies and positioning that will drive the pricing?
  • Is the intended offering price realistic and competitive?
  • Is the pricing model RFP compliant?
  • What is the Basis of Estimate (BOE) for the proposed offering and does the result reflect the strategies and positioning?
  • What materials, costs, or other pricing data must be researched and how will they be validated? 
  • Has all of the required pricing data been received? Is it accurate? Is the resulting pricing realistic and competitive?
  • Has the pricing been prepared in a way that is RFP compliant and is it ready for submission?

This parallels the process used in the narrative proposal to describe the proposed offering. They correspond with the same things needed for developing the offering and presenting it. What this means is that your pricing and offering are closely related and co-dependent. The pricing proposal must not only be developed in parallel with the narrative proposal, but a failure to integrate pricing along the way puts your win rate at just as much of a risk as a reduction in the quality of the narrative proposal. Maybe even more of a risk.

This also means that it is just as effective to drive the structure of the proposal process by the pricing proposal as it is to drive it by proposal writing. For some companies, it might make more sense to start formalizing its proposal process by implementing a pricing process that drives decisions regarding strategy, positioning, offering design, and BOE validation. This can establish a framework with milestones for things like strategy development and planning that can be used to develop the process for the narrative proposal.

A chaotic pricing proposal experience is a sign of a broken narrative proposal process. A chaotic pricing proposal experience means that the information needed to prepare a winning price proposal was not delivered in an orderly manner. If you look at the list above, this information does not magically appear, nor is it produced in a single step or handoff. To achieve a quality pricing proposal, you must have an orderly well-planned pursuit that is based on:

  • Customer awareness that provides an information advantage
  • Solutioning that makes the right trade-off decisions
  • A plan for achieving RFP compliance
  • A BOE that fulfills your bid strategies and makes your offering the customer’s best alternative

When these things are well coordinated and validated, you get a higher quality pricing proposal and a more competitive proposal overall.

While we are used to looking at the proposal process from the perspective of developing the narrative proposal, you can also start from the perspective of the price proposal and back into the process for the narrative. The two go hand in hand. Work that you do on one part of the process should be fully integrated and support success in the other. And yet the two sides are often done in isolation with little integration between the two. Those who care about their win rates and competitiveness should see an opportunity here to gain a competitive advantage by excelling in an area their competitors ignore.

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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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