Successful proposals begin with understanding how the prospect’s needs intersect with your strengths and those of your competitors.
After setting up your response structure (see this post for details), your next task is to analyse each section and answer three questions:
- What are the key issues (needs, desires, concerns) for the prospect?
- How will we show we understand and have addressed each issue?
- What will we do to show our approach to each issue is the best?
Be sure to complete this work before you kick off content development. The single biggest error most bidders make is starting to write without a strategy. The resulting proposal may comply with the RFP—but it will be vulnerable to competitive bids that show real understanding and position their solutions against the field.
A strategy for every issue
Use the RFP and the capture team’s knowledge of the prospect (including likely evaluators) and your competitors to analyse the issues for each section. See this post on how to use a competitive solutions matrix.
For each issue, strive to express solutions and gaps using quantitative values (issue resolution in hours, housekeeping using ISO standards), rather than less certain qualitative measures.
Once you’ve done this, identify actions you will take to highlight your strengths, downplay your weaknesses, exploit competitors’ weaknesses and offset competitors’ strengths. Create strategy statements that express your intent and include specific actions you will take. The table below contains examples:
|ISSUES AND INTENT||ACTION(S)|
|We will show our team is capable of performing to requirements by—||Preparing a matrix of recent similar projects teams showing the overlap with proposed key individuals|
|We will show our ability to control costs by—||—Presenting a table of our 5 most recent public projects showing budgeted and actual costs|
|We will create confidence that we can complete the project on time by—||—Citing that we have a perfect record of on-time completion over the past five years|
|We will show our ability to offer innovation solutions by—||—Listing innovation awards and citations we won for recent similar projects
—Show images/logos of awards’ sponsors
—Including a client testimonial (CEO of XYZCo.) attesting to a cost-saving innovation
Take time to do it right
Don’t skimp on strategy making. This is the step that enables you to convince evaluators they should select your company for this project.
For any complex proposal, schedule several days to build and test your strategy.