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Bid Proposals | Positioning your offer

 June 21, 2016
by Paul Heron

Last week we explained how to demonstrate responsiveness to an issuer’s strategic drivers and hot button issues. This post deals with positioning—the art and science of comparing your solution favourably against alternatives.

Successful positioning differentiates your company, team and solution. To be a differentiator, a feature must:

  • Be something you possess that your competitors don’t, and;
  • Convey a benefit that matters to your client

Understanding, experience, performance, people

Experience shows that most differentiators can be found in four areas:

  • Understanding: Can you make the case that your company understands the prospect and the project better than any other vendor? Incumbents often make this argument during rebids.
  • Experience: Can you demonstrate that you have the most experience in the kind of work on offer? This can make the case that you are best able to bring the project in on time and on budget.
  • Performance: Can you prove that one or more aspects of your solution—design, quality, reliability, cost, safety record—is superior to those of other competitors?
  • People: Can you propose individuals for key project roles who are known and liked by the issuer and/or have proven ability to perform at a high level?

Manage your weaknesses

Does your main competitor have strengths it is likely to position against you? If so, consider how you can defend proactively. For example, if you know a much larger competitor will position its bench strength and installed base against you, defend by stressing your flexibility and responsiveness—ideally with an example of how this led to success in a similar project.

For another example, see this post on dealing with weak experience.

Trade-offs and ghosting

Trade-offs and ghosting are additional techniques that will improve your proposal’s competitive positioning.

Use trade-offs to show you have carefully considered and dismissed alternatives to your offer. Ghosting can be used to offset competitor strengths, exploit competitor weaknesses, reinforce your relative strengths and defend your perceived weaknesses.

See this post on how to use trade-offs and ghosting.

Stand out—but be careful

Our reviews of hundreds of bids shows that very few proposal teams effectively use positioning in their RFP responses. This means that skilful use of positioning can make a significant impact on evaluators—and their scores.

Because positioning involves making a comparison, it can be perceived as negative. Overdone, it can also be seen as preachy or condescending. To avoid leaving this impression, use positioning sparingly and ensure your arguments are sound.



Need help making the case for your recommended solution?

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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