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Bid Proposals | Understand your differentiators

 March 3, 2015
by Paul Heron

Understanding and expressing differentiators is critical to success.

Proposals typically describe all the features of an offer. Many will be itemized in the RFP and required for compliance. Most will be “table stakes” items—things you provide, along with every other competitor.

But a precious few will be differentiators—and identifying those is critical to your success.

Differentiators are features that possess two characteristics:

  1. They are unmatched by your competition
  2. They are important to your prospect

A feature is only a differentiator if both qualities are present.

Understanding your differentiators

In tight situations, the difference between winning and losing often comes down to knowing and expressing differentiators. You need to:

  • Understand your prospect: Just as some house purchasers focus on location, others on operating costs and still others on curb appeal, B2B prospects will find certain features more appealing than others. What features does this prospect consider important? Finding out should be a key deliverable for relationship managers.
  • Know your competition: Like you, your competitors are constantly adding and changing features. If you rely on obsolete information to claim uniqueness for a feature others have, you’ll lose credibility. Ensure your team is working with up-to-date competitive data.
  • Know your offering: Arm your writers with as much detail as possible about your features—especially those you rely on to differentiate. Avoid throwing away your advantage with generic claims, such as: “Our team is highly experienced,” when you could state: “Our proposed team members have an average of 12 years experience on projects similar to yours.”

Continually re-evaluate your differentiators

Even after we help bid teams move well beyond the “search-and-replace” stage of preparing bid responses, we find they often assume that differentiators that worked in the past will bring success this time around.

That’s a dangerous approach.

The solution: build in processes to ensure your relationship managers stay current on which features are most appealing to specific prospects, that they know whether the prospect organization’s decision-making power has shifted in a way that favours different features, and that you know when competitors match or leap-frog features you’re counting on for your edge.

The use of differentiators is part of our bid response assessment. Click here to learn more.


Develop better bid strategies.

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




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