Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

 

Informal proposal content

 May 21, 2019
by Paul Heron

We've focussed this month on informal proposals—those delivered after you’ve had sales discussions with a prospect, but outside a formal bid process. A successful informal proposal does two things:

  • Arrives quickly, while the opportunity is still warm; and
  • Anticipates and addresses the prospect's key needs and issues.

Earlier posts covered informal proposal basics and ideas for informal proposal modules. This week we’ll explore how to build content you can tweak to fit each specific prospect and situation.

Minimizing customization time

The challenge in pre-building proposal modules is making them easy to adapt while avoiding the appearance of boilerplate. Localization and structure are powerful tools for this purpose.

  • Localization refers to organizing a module’s content, so the client situation and needs are contained in one or two places. Company profiles, team member resumes and project sheets are examples of good candidates for localization.
  • Structure refers to organizing content in a format (usually a table) to speed content creation. Using an Excel matrix to present an implementation schedule is a familiar example.

Localization and structure are not mutually exclusive. Resumes and project sheets are excellent candidates for combining these tools.

The table below shows the modules suggested in last week's post with tips on drafting and customizing. The right column indicates relative effort/time needed to customize each module, based on our experience.

MODULE RECOMMENDED TIPS TO ACCELERATE COMPLETION EFFORT
Introduction / understanding Heading: Our understanding of your needs. Use an intro sentence or two to frame the situation e.g. "XYX Co. requires a solution that satisfies the following requirements", followed by 5-8 bullet points identifying a combination of pain points and needed solution features. Start with the pain points, followed by the features. These come directly from your call notes. Close with a promise that your solution will address the prospect's need. HIGH
High-level solution Heading: Key Recommendations. Outline your general approach in 3-5 very short bullet points. Effort will depend on range of solutions offered LOW
Solution detail Heading: Proposed Solution. Use a 3-column table list 1) name of a process step, 2) actions you will perform, and 3) the outcome and benefit. Stay high level, describing the solution in 8 or fewer steps and using 1-3 bullet points to describe each step. If your process is highly standardized, this table will not require customization for each client. MED
Your credentials Heading: About our company. Introduce with a short paragraph affirming that your experience is a good fit for the prospect's requirements. Use standard content to describe your company. Focus on your project experience and the results achieved. Use facts, not empty claims. Keep this section brief. LOW
Checklist Heading: XYZ Co will satisfy all its objectives with our solution. Use a standardized table format to cite the prospect’s needs and issues and specifically how your solution satisfies each item. MED
Schedule Heading: Well-planned implementation schedule. Use a standardized Excel Gantt chart to provide a high-level implementation schedule (5-8 milestones). Mirror the solution steps above. LOW
Comparison table Heading: Compare our solution against others. Use a table with columns for alternative solutions (technologies or vendor characteristics) and rows for criteria that matter to the prospect, such as technical features, cost, risk, time to implement, etc. Rate each solution against each criterion using check marks or a numerical value. Limit the number of rows to 6 or fewer. Create a standard table and brainstorm all possible rows, and then delete least applicable rows for each proposal. Do not call out other vendors by name. LOW
Risk table Heading: All risks are expertly managed. Use a table and this post on risk analysis to explain how your team will manage risks associated with the project. Build a standard table of risks common to your business and reuse as required. LOW
Team and qualifications Heading: Well qualified and dedicated team. Identify key team members and their experience in their project roles. Use facts and client testimonials to showcase your experience and past performance on similar projects. Degree of standardization possible will depend on your business. LOW/
MED
Price Heading: Investment and terms. Present your price and terms. Break down price by work completed and/or value created. Include any added value components that may be missing from alternative solutions. Cite the milestones for progress payments. LOW
Closing Close your proposal with a standard paragraph acknowledging the importance of this project to your prospect promising to contact your contact within one week to discuss next steps. LOW
Terms and Conditions Heading: Terms and conditions. Get legal advice to develop a standard section, using plain language and a limit of two pages if possible. Make this an appendix. LOW
Acceptance Heading: Acceptance. Use standard language to make it easy for the prospect to acknowledge that he or she has the authority to bind the prospect company, and formally accepts your proposal LOW
Resumes / Project sheets See this post for how to create standardized team resumes and project sheets. LOW


Evolve and polish your modules

As you encounter prospects with new issues, update your proposal sections and add new candidate sections. In time, you will become much faster at drafting custom sections, because you are using a structured approach in many cases.

Next week: Managing sales conversations around informal proposals

 

Need help writing high quality informal proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Informal proposal modules

 May 14, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last week we identified ideal situations for informal proposals and argued for pre-building content to enable fast responses without sacrificing quality. This week and next we'll show you how to approach pre-building content.

The payoff for following this model can be huge. Using prebuilt sections, one of our clients now spends just two or three hours to create proposals that used to take 15 hours or more. They now submit proposals within a few days instead of a few weeks—and the proposals themselves are winning more business.

Brainstorm the modules you’ll need

Start by considering the types of questions your proposal needs to answer. One way to do this is to analyze the three buyer types: the economic buyer, technical buyers, and user buyers, and the main concerns for each. Another approach is to analyse past RFPs for similar needs to find common section themes. 

Remember that the idea is to anticipate and address issues the prospect team might raise when reviewing your proposal. This proactivity relieves your primary contact of need to either defend your proposal, or come back to you for additional information. Removing barriers to a go-ahead decision is the aim.

The table below lists potential modules, recommended contents, and the selling purpose for each. Next week, we'll look at how to create and standardize these modules. For now, just think about which of these might make sense for your prospects—and additional modules you might need.

MODULE SELLING PURPOSE 
Introduction / understanding Shows you understand and are client-focussed. Connects your solution to the prospect's strategic goals and current challenges
High-level solution Enables the prospect to easily grasp your solution and its key benefits
Solution detail Shows evaluators you have a logical process that leads to the desired result
Your credentials Demonstrates you have the relevant experience and past performance to succeed
Checklist Shows that your solution meets all technical requirements and addresses the key strategic drivers and issues
Schedule Proves you have considered the steps required and have a plan for on-time implementation
Comparison table* Makes trade-offs explicit and positions your solution against possible options (including in-sourcing). See this post on trade-offs and ghosting
Risk table* Demonstrates your expertise at identifying and managing project risks
Team and qualifications Shows you understand the required tasks and skills needed and have filled all roles with qualified and experienced people
Price and breakdown Shows your price is realistic, reasonable, minimizes risk and represents the best trade-offs to address the prospect’s needs and issues.
Closing Includes a promise to reconnect by a specific date so you retain responsibility and timing for initiating next steps
Terms and Conditions* Provides clarity around contract expectations
Acceptance* Makes it easy to say "Yes"

*These items are optional, depending on the industry and offering

More is better

The aim of this work is to identify and develop enough modules to address 95 percent of the sections you're likely to need after promising to deliver an informal proposal. Think about how you sell and err on the side of more, rather than fewer, potential modules to reduce the need to write sections from scratch for a new proposal.

We use this approach internally at Complex2Clear, and we call the result our "kitchen sink proposal"—because it includes everything and the kitchen sink. Of course, no proposal we submit ever contains all modules.

 

Next week: Creating and adapting module content

 

Need help writing high quality informal proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Informal proposal basics

 May 7, 2019
by Paul Heron

Government agencies and most large companies require RFPs for all large purchases. But for all others, an informal proposal can avoid the time, effort and expense of developing an RFP and managing the evaluation and decision process.

Factors favouring an informal proposal include:

  • Existing relationship: Current clients are more likely to waive the need for a formal RFP—especially if they are satisfied and the requirement is well understood by both parties.
  • Strong value proposition: A strong ROI or cost savings compared to the current contract may be enough to avoid an RFP.
  • Time pressure: RFPs take time—and even well-organized RFPs seldom run on schedule. If the need is pressing, buyers can often find ways around procurement rules.
  • Disruptive technology: New-to-the market technology is a logical candidate for an informal proposal. In fact, it may be the only way to sell, since the solution may not comply with RFPs built around known approaches.

Never a sure thing

An invitation to submit an informal proposal is not an automatic sale. Many such opportunities have slipped away because a weak or incomplete informal proposal raised concerns that prompted the prospect to keep looking—or to take the less risky option of a formal RFP.

For that reason, devote the same attention to responsiveness and positioning as you would for a formal RFP response. Begin by learning. 

Learn as much as you can

Think beyond the key contact to consider other likely decision makers. Enlist your contact's help in learning as much as you can about the following and their issues:

  • Economic buyer—the individual who will focus on strategic fit and value for money, and who will make the final decision
  • Technical buyers—gatekeepers who will assess your offer against functional requirements, and advise on contracting and other risks 
  • User buyers—those whose daily work lives your solution will impact most

Instead of relying on your contact to advocate for you with each of these buyer types, anticipate and address their questions in your proposal.

Be sure to understand what size proposal is expected. You may hear “simple” and think 5 pages; you prospect may be thinking 25.

Prepare content in advance

Time is often an issue when a prospect invites an informal proposal. Even when there’s no rush, submit as soon as possible to forestall competing offers or a change of heart by your prospect.

To respond quickly without sacrificing quality, pre-build your proposal, and then tailor it to suit each opportunity.

In the coming weeks we’ll show you how to do this.

Remember the prize

If these ideas sound like a lot of effort, remember: The work it takes to build strong informal proposals is well worth a sale without the far more labour-intensive (and riskier) process of responding to a competitive RFP. Also, once built, much of the content in an informal proposal can be reused.

Next week: Informal proposal contents

 

Need help with your informal proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Free bid/no-bid decision tool

 April 30, 2019
by Paul Heron

This is the last post in this month’s series on evaluating RFP opportunities. The idea is to use a shareable framework with consistent criteria to help business leaders reach consensus on bid/no-bid decisions.

Consistency will also enable you to adjust your criteria and/or scoring, based on experience and to optimize your win rate over time.

Here are links to the earlier posts on this topic:

Download the tool

Download the Bid/No-bid Decision Tool in Excel format here. The tool is free for your internal use. You may adapt it in any way that suits your business.

How to use the tool

1. Customize the questions

Discuss the questions with your team. Change, add or eliminate questions until your team agrees on a set that will work for the prospects and RFPs you typically see.

When changing or adding questions, be sure to create statements that constitute “go” votes when answered “agree” (+1, +3 or +5). That way, a higher result for each answer always means a stronger endorsement for bidding.

2. Reach consensus on new opportunities

When a bid opportunity arises, complete the sheet together or individually. Always discuss questions that elicit widely varying scores. After using the framework a few times, you may decide to clarify questions that cause confusion.

Agree on the minimum score that makes an opportunity attractive. Decide how to treat potential deal blockers.

Record the scores for each opportunity for future reference.

3. Include scores from the tool as part of win-loss analysis.

Once you’ve had experience using the tool, use it when analysing your win rate and profit history on projects you’ve won. Suggested questions for that analysis:

  • How well do scores correlate with success at winning bids?
  • How well do scores correlate with profits on won projects?
  • Is there an argument for raising or lowering the threshold score for bidding?

Document your decisions

Following a process accelerates the bid/no-bid decision, freeing up precious time either to prepare the proposal to move onto other priorities. Documenting your decisions will help your team analyse results, and to fine-tune the criteria and how you apply them—resulting in more efficient bidding.

 

Need help developing better bid processes?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Bid/No-bid: Internal factors

 April 23, 2019
by Paul Heron

This month we consider how to decide whether or not to bid on a specific RFP. A poor process wastes time and creates division. A shared, transparent process improves internal alignment and gives you information to optimize your win rate over time.

Find earlier posts in the series at these links:

Step Three: Assessing internal factors

In addition to assessing the prospect, project and competitive factors, do you have the team and resources needed to win the competition and take on the project? Answer these questions by asking:

  1. How qualified is your proposed team? How does your team rank on a scale from highly capable to barely qualified? Do you have a leader with experience on similar projects? Could another team member complete the project if the proposed leader became unavailable?
  2. Are other needed resources available? If you win, how far will the project stretch your infrastructure? Do you have the necessary IT and admin resources? Can you find and on-board additional resources post-award?
  3. How will this project impact other clients? Might an existing client see a conflict of interest if you take this on? Will the effort needed to complete this project compromise your ability to serve other clients?
  4. Does the project have strategic significance? Does the project have potential to improve your competitive position? Is it your chance to crack a new account or get a toehold in a new industry? Could it fund development of a new technology or new capabilities?
  5. Is it too big to handle? Growing companies need to constantly balance their appetite for ever larger and more complex projects with the need to be prudent about risk. Many industries include onetime high-flyers brought down by “whales”—projects they took on, and then couldn’t handle.

Is this the right project at the right time?

Most RFPs may fit well with your capabilities and resources, making these questions easy to answer. But stretch opportunities, when they appear, need to be recognized and considered for their strategic implications.

Using a decision framework will help you establish a shared language and format for talking about RFP opportunities—and to surface strategic issues in a way that enables you to take the risks needed to grow, while protecting your business.

 

Next week: A decision-making format you can adapt and use in your business.

 

Need help making better bid/no-bid decisions?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Bid/No-bid: Competition

 April 16, 2019
by Paul Heron

This month’s posts provide guidance for deciding whether or not to bid on any given opportunity. Following a process improves internal alignment and provides information to optimize your win rate.

Find the previous posts at these links:

Evaluating your competition

Assuming that bidding will consume scarce resources (nearly always the case), be sure to assess your competition before making a decision.

Use these questions to start your thinking:

  1. Are you up against an incumbent? If this is a renewal, is the incumbent bidding? If yes, is the client genuinely looking to change suppliers, or simply fulfilling a requirement to issue an RFP? How well has the incumbent performed on the current contract? In this post, we talk about why incumbents often lose renewal competitions.
  2. Are you competitive? Do you know what other bidders are bringing to the table? In many sectors (telecom is a good example) disruptive or next-generation technologies can offer huge cost savings in the right situations. Is this one of those situations, and can you be competitive?
  3. Does a decision maker or influencer favour a competitor? Favouritism could be based on a past association or a current business relationship unrelated to the current RFP. If another bidder is favoured, how well does the RFP process promote fairness?
  4. Are there any low-ball competitors? Every industry has one or more players who consistently underbid everyone else. These companies may be desperate for a win, or they may not fully understand the RFP or their own costs. The prospect of a very low competitive quote may affect your appetite and/or the way you present your bid. For example, you could provide a highly transparent pricing model to raise doubts about the low quote.

Use competitive factors to fine-tune your decision

Competitive factors are seldom showstoppers, but they can help you prioritize RFP opportunities. Faced with going head-to head against a popular incumbent or a competitor with a cheaper and more efficient technical solution, investing effort in another bid will likely yield higher returns.


Next week: Internal factors in the bid/no-bid decision process

 

Need help developing a better bid/no bid process?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Bid/No-bid: Familiarity factors

 April 9, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last month’s post highlighted the importance of making fast and accurate bid/no-bid decisions. This post describes the first step—assessing your relationship with the prospect and knowledge of the requirements.

How familiar is the prospect?

Most RFP issuers prefer to work with companies they know and trust. So, in most cases, the odds of winning an RFP you discover on a portal are slim. To assess your relationship, start with these questions:

  • How well do you know the prospect? Do you understand the issuer’s strategic needs, pain points and business drivers? Can you build a proposal that offers value beyond meeting the base requirements?
  • How well does the prospect know your team and capabilities? Have you worked together in the past? If yes, was that a positive or negative experience? Are there decision makers or influencers who will advocate for you? On the flip side, do you have detractors in the prospect organization?
  • How good is your fit? Do you share similar values? Does the prospect run a fair and transparent evaluation process? Do they appreciate value—or is price the overriding factor? Do they have a reputation for suing or for not paying contractors?

In some situations, a prior relationship is less important. For example:

  • A robust industry presence will attract unsolicited RFPs. In fact, the prospect may have researched your company and know more about you than you do about them.
  • If your capabilities are unique or highly regarded, a prospect may be happy to provide additional information to make you comfortable bidding. This is especially true with private sector prospects.

What do you know about the project?

  • Are the requirements familiar? Have you completed similar projects for the same or similar clients? Have you discussed the project with the prospect? Or (ideally) did you have a hand in shaping the RFP?
  • Are you confident in your capability? Assuming you understand the challenges well, are you confident you can meet them? Beyond being capable, can you add significant value?
  • What about profitability? Are you confident the project will exceed your minimum profit threshold—or, is this likely to be a marginally profitable project?

To increase your project knowledge, explore these two options:

  • Does the process allow you to learn more? As noted above, private sector issuers tend to be more flexible than governments in proving additional information.
  • Can you deal with unknowns through contracting? Do the RFP rules allow you to structure your offer to manage risks? If the RFP doesn't include a pro forma contract, will the prospect share its standard terms and conditions?

The value of pre-RFP discovery

The assessment questions above are often hard to address once an RFP is issued—which shows how important it is to identify and work upstream of large opportunities. Please see our post on managing pre-RFP discovery.

Next week: Bid/no-bid competitive factors

 

Need help building stronger bid processes?

Contact Complex2Clear

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Making bid/no-bid decisions

 April 2, 2019
by Paul Heron

Many companies have unresolved tension between those who want to respond to more bid opportunities and those who want to focus on fewer bids and aim for a higher win percentage.

Bid more, even if success rate drops?

Sales teams responsible for filtering opportunities and preparing bids typically want to bid only on RFPs where they see a high probability of success. For them, building client relationships seems a better use of time than writing long shot bid proposals.

Higher-ups may see a high win rate as indicating the company should be bidding on more opportunities—even at the cost of losing more often.

While it makes sense only to bid on winnable projects, setting the bid/no-bid boundary can be tricky.

Challenges in finding middle ground

As with many disagreements, the ideal solution lies somewhere in the middle. Sales teams may be best positioned to gauge the chances of winning a given opportunity—but there’s usually a lot of territory between sure winners and no hopers.

Many variables—including whether the team is making budget, the number of new prospects competing for attention, and the availability of resource—can influence the team’s thinking on any given bid.

Corporate leaders, on the other hand, are focused on company-wide growth and profitability, and they may be less sensitive to the added pressure that preparing more bid responses puts on their sales teams.

Partial solution: Bid more efficiently

One approach to this issue is to reduce the effort needed to bid without compromising quality. Assuming bid teams have an incentive to win more business, an easier process should result in a higher RFP response rate.

Companies pursue bid efficiency with investments in processes, structure, technology and knowledge management. In future posts we’ll look at ways you can invest to work less and win more bids.

Despite these improvements, the tension around whether to bid will remain, unless you take another step.

Formalize your bid / no-bid decision

Equally important as efficient proposal writing is a process for efficiently deciding whether to bid.

Making the bid/no-bid criteria and decision transparent and shareable not only helps resolve tension around this issue—it also provides a baseline for evaluating success against your predictive score, so you can review your success and adjust going forward.

Coming posts will cover bid/no-bid criteria and a decision making format.

 

Need help with your bid/no-bid process?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Writing clearer narratives

 March 26, 2019
by Paul Heron

Proposals are often the only strategic, outward-facing documents for which companies rely on non-writers. That’s because proposal writing requires technical expertise and, although some subject matter experts (SMEs) are fine writers, many are not.

Copyediting will correct flawed writing, but often gets crowded out by deadlines and budget constraints. For that reason, we recommend working to improve SMEs’ ability and comfort when drafting narratives.

Begin this process by fostering the following writing habits:

1. Client focus

Proposals are selling documents—and selling is all about the prospect. Here are some ways to demonstrate client focus:

  • Show understanding: Proposal evaluators frequently complain about vendors who launch into describing their solutions without first showing they understand the requirements. Showcase your understanding by citing requirements and how key solution features will address them.
  • Explain trade-offs: Whenever you choose one option over others in developing a solution, show how each trade-off improves alignment with one or more of the specific requirements and goals.
  • Remember WIIFM: Evaluators are always asking: What’s in it for me? Subject your content to the same question. If it’s not clear why your prospect should care about a paragraph of content, ask yourself if you need it. Remember, your aim is to explain and persuade, not to fill pages.

2. Rely on facts not fluff

When writing about your company’s history, performance and experience, use facts to make the case. Descriptors such as “world-class,” “a leading provider of,” “one of the best,” etc. are empty claims that will get you no points. Instead, state your case using facts.

3. Write in the active voice

Active voice writing is stronger and more persuasive than passive voice. It should be used by default in proposal writing. In the active voice, it’s clear who is doing what. For example:

  • Passive: Safety Committee meetings will be held every week.
  • Active: The Safety Committee will meet weekly.

This link provides more examples and ways to spot the passive voice.

Use the passive voice where:

  • A process performs the action: “Effluent is piped to the digester and treated with enzymes.”
  • Who carries out the action is unimportant: “If you do not perform this maintenance monthly, your warranty will be cancelled.”

NOTE: In some situations, a bid team will purposefully use passive voice to avoid making commitments that could limit flexibility in future contract negotiations. If your company employs this strategy, communicate it to your SMEs and/or use copyediting to manage commitments.

4. Use plain language

People typically use more complex words and longer sentences when writing than speaking—either unconsciously or because they believe it sounds more authoritative. The goal should be to write as plainly as possible, considering the subject matter and audience.

Evaluators scan and score proposals, rather than reading them closely. Write for fast, easy reading by:

  • Avoiding wordiness and unnecessarily complex phrases and verb forms
  • Using simple sentences and short paragraphs
  • Managing jargon and acronyms carefully: Jargon is useful as insider shorthand, for example among aircraft cockpit crew. But some proposal evaluators may not be technical experts, so use it sparingly. Redefine unfamiliar acronyms the first time you use them in a section. Where appropriate, use a nickname (“the Committee” or “the Project”) instead of an acronym.

The U.S. Plain Language Guidelines, source of the above links, are an excellent guide for proposal writing. They make great first time or refresher reading for any writer serious about his or her craft.

It takes a strategy

Wordy, ambiguous writing often signals a lack of knowledge. Habit 1: Client focus is only achievable when writers are armed with a win strategy before they begin. Start with this post on proposal strategy basics, and then scan our blog Index under the column headings U and S to learn more.

Making good habits stick

All this is easier to say (or write about) than to do. Aim to gradually improve the level of writing over time, rather than expecting immediate changes in habits developed over years or decades.

 

Need help writing powerful proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear

 

 

Photo credit


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

 

 

  

Writing effective callouts

 March 19, 2019
by Paul Heron

Callouts are short text strings set in an eye-catching font and/or colour block designed to draw attention. Proposal teams use the attention-grabbing power of callouts to ensure evaluators note and remember key messages. This post explains how to use callouts to greatest effect.

How to write strong callouts

Effective callouts are:

  • Brief: Limit callouts to 15 words or less. Editing a callout to this length is hard work, but brief callouts are more likely to get read and remembered.
  • Benefits-focussed: How does the feature you’re emphasizing benefit your prospect? Even if the benefit is obvious, state it in the callout.
  • Responsive: Address your prospect’s known hot button issues to ensure callouts resonate with evaluators.
  • Unique: Reserve callouts for claims other vendors can’t match. This means focussing on narrow features and benefits—but in a close competition, evaluators need only remember one or two things about a section to lift your score above the others.
  • Factual: Use facts, not empty claims in callouts. This is standard advice for all proposal content—but especially true here.
  • Specific: Make callouts more powerful by adding specifics. Instead of: “Our process will reduce costs by 30%,” consider, “Reduce current cycle time by 42% and labour costs by 30%.”

Define and use a callout style

Define a callout style that attracts attention and works with your proposal template. In MS Word, you can use a combination of the following options:

  • Type attributes— font, size, bold, italic, colour
  • Border—boxed, rule above and/or below and/or to the right and/or left
  • Shading—tint the text block containing the callout

Style and place callouts consistently

Because evaluators typically scan proposals quickly, consider using callouts in the same style and location(s) on each page. This, plus persuasive writing, increases the chance evaluators will see them as reliable summaries of your sales arguments.

Position your offer to win

Remember, the goal is to differentiate your offer in ways that matter to your prospect. That’s what the attributes described above aim to accomplish.

Will every callout include all six desired attributes? Likely not—but even if you manage three or four, you’ll be on your way to submitting stronger proposals.

 

 

 

Need help making your proposals stand out?

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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