It's great to have a relationship with the customer before the RFP comes out. But that only makes a difference if it leads to having an information advantage. And an information advantage only matters if it impacts what you say in the proposal. If the sale closes through the award of a proposal, then a customer relationship needs to enable you to write a better proposal in order to matter.
During the pre-RFP pursuit, it's not enough to simply fish for information about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. You have to anticipate the questions that proposal writers will have in each of their individual sections in order to impact what goes in the proposal. When proposal writers ask what the customer prefers, or whether to make this choice or that choice, you need to have anticipated that and have the answer.
In the paper-based version of the MustWin Process we did this with lists of questions. We even built the Readiness Review methodology around them.
In MustWin Now, the online version of Readiness Reviews is a lot more flexible and the answers can be directly mapped to the proposal outline. MustWin Now uses pursuit capture question and answer forms for various aspects of pre-RFP pursuit to gather information based on those questions. They are part of the Pursuit Capture Form tool, and you can select which forms you want to use.
You can use the Pursuit Capture Forms tool to guide your efforts and collect the information that proposal writers will need. You can measure your progress towards being ready to win at RFP release by setting up reviews. In the MustWin Readiness Review methodology we recommend four reviews. But with MustWin Now online you can set up as many reviews as you want, and use them to match the milestones in your existing business development and capture process. You can even drag and drop the questions to the review that focuses on that topic.
If you schedule your reviews, then your business development and capture managers can see the questions organized according to the review schedule:
Ok, but what if you start after RFP release?
One of my favorite features is that it's even easier than the paper-based process to convert the questions into proposal input forms for use after RFP release. Simply start answering the questions when you start the proposal. Why? Because of what comes after you answer the questions...
What happens after you answer the questions?
To really begin proposal planning, you need the proposal outline. But you can't create the proposal outline until the RFP is released. But what you can do is take what you've learned about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment to make decisions about the proposal.
When you've completed answering questions, MustWin Now will prompt you to convert them into instructions for proposal writers. Here's an example where we took some competitive intelligence and used it to decide how to position what we say in the proposal.
When the RFP comes out, you use MustWin Now to create your compliance matrix, proposal outline, and proposal content plan. The first step in creating the proposal content plan is to link any answers from the pursuit capture forms to your outline, which enables you to convert the intelligence you've gathered into instructions for proposal writers.
After you drop it into a proposal section, it becomes part of the content plan for that section.
As part of the content planning phase, you can add as many instructions as you wish to inform the proposal writers about not only what to write, but how to best present it. MustWin Now enables you to connect what you learned about what it will take to win directly to how the proposal gets written.
Just don't call it a CRM
MustWin Now is not a sales funnel or contact management tool. If anything it is something to use with a CRM. And any CRM vendors reading this who want to integrate with us as a way to enable your CRM to better impact the proposal and the close of all those leads you are tracking should reach out to us.
One additional thing that MustWin Now does is help guide your business development and capture staff. Instead of fishing for random intel, they have specific questions to try to answer.
The impact of business development on the proposal should not be random. A traditional paper-based process gets you better information, but getting it into the proposal is still a challenge. And most paper-based processes are really just all talk. Talk about what should go into the proposal, most of which never has much impact on proposal assignments.
When you move online, all the information carries forward and transforms from raw intelligence into instructions for how to use it to win the proposal. At the same time, MustWin Now:
- Provides some guidance to your business development and capture managers regarding what information to collect
- Streamlines how you store relevant information and does it in a way that's easier to carry forward into the proposal
- Enables you to track your progress towards developing an information advantage
- Provides a much improved way to review what you've collected and take action on it
- Enables you to quickly assess and make the most of what you do know when you start a proposal at RFP release
When the proposal starts, MustWin Now informs your proposal writers on what to do with the things you know about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment. It also enables you to validate that the draft proposal reflects your full awareness. You can literally click back from the proposal to what you discovered about what it will take to win. MustWin Now enables you to provide your proposal writers with:
- One click access to the full text of the RFP requirements that are relevant to their sections
- Quality criteria that tell them when they've done things correctly
- Instructions for not only what to write about, but how to present it
- Access to all of the questions you were able to answer, enabling them to go beyond mere RFP compliance
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.