Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

Bid Proposals | Keeping strategy in focus

 June 28, 2016
by Paul Heron

As posts this month argue, successful proposals go beyond compliance. They respond to the prospect’s strategic drivers and hot button issues, and position the bidder’s offer against alternatives, including other competitors’ likely offers.

Implementing strategy in real time

Many teams understand these ideas, but struggle with implementation. To ensure your team follows through, we recommend the following five actions:

1. Develop an evidence-based, client-specific bid strategy

Ensure your strategy has credibility by basing it on facts gathered by sales developers or from other verifiable sources. Avoid idle speculation and broad market appeals that may or may not apply to this specific prospect and project.

If you struggle to build a strategy that meets these criteria, reconsider your bid/no-bid decision.

2. Get sign-off on strategy

Document your strategy for senior decision maker review and approval before kick off. Cite the prospect’s key drivers and issues, together with your win strategies, for each of the main RFP sections.

Include how you will sell your offer’s strengths and defend any identified weaknesses. Include a draft executive summary.

 This step helps build alignment and support for resources.

3. Share strategy with content developers

Distribute your strategy—including the executive summary—to section leaders and key content developers at kick-off.

Sharing strategy early helps shape content developers’ thinking and enables them to bring client focus to outlining and writing each section.

4. Manage content development around strategy

Use section content planners and ask writers to analyse section requirements and outline responses based on the agreed strategy. Review and approve the analysis and outlines before writing begins. Manage content progress daily.

Close management avoids drift from strategy into “compliance-only mode.”

5. Focus reviews on strategy

Make strategy the centrepiece of proposal reviews—especially the red team review. The main question for each section review should be: Are we doing the best possible job of pursuing our strategy for managing client drivers and issues and for positioning our solution against alternatives? 

Strategy-focused reviews keep participants engaged and make best use of their expertise and experience.

Focussing on strategy pays off

The above practices will deliver returns on your team’s early investment in strategy. You’ll produce more coherent, client-focused proposals that stand out from your competition—and invite higher scores from evaluators.



Need help keeping proposals strategy-focused?

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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