Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.


Pre-Red Team management

 July 16, 2019
by Paul Heron

This month’s series explains how to manage large narratives. Last week we focussed on preparing proposal writers for success. Today’s post includes tools and processes for managing the period from kickoff to Red Team review.

Red Team review planning

NOTE: The points below assume narratives total 200 pages or less, and the response window is 45-60 days. Adjust for larger or smaller responses and submission times. For much larger narratives, consider scheduling multiple Red Teams or plan a multi-day review.

  • Time the review for about halfway through the response window
  • Issue invitations early for an all-day, in-person session
  • Invite the proposal manager, capture manager and section leads
  • Set a content submission deadline 4-6 days ahead of the review
  • Specify that submitted narratives be at least 70 percent complete

Pink Team review

If the schedule permits and especially if requirements are complex, consider scheduling a bullet point or Pink Team review between kickoff and Red Team. To prepare, ask writers to analyse their sections and provide their analyses and proposed responses in point form. For all but very large responses, conduct review sessions virtually and/or one-on-one. Focus on ensuring writers are clear on structure and compliance before they begin drafting.

Triaging submitted content

Analyse pre-Red Team submissions when received and return or escalate sections that are not 70 percent or more complete and/or that are non-compliant. Include notes explaining your decision. Fast turnaround increases the chances of getting acceptable content back in time for Red Team.

Structural editing

Due to time constraints, and because reviewers’ input often results in wholesale changes, do not invest in copyediting content at this stage. Focus annotations on recommended cuts to irrelevant or non-responsive content and missing information and opportunities to improve compliance, logical flow, convert plain text to tables, graphics, mini-case studies etc., and to add strategic messaging.

Circulating documents for Red Team

Assemble annotated narratives into a Word or PDF document and distribute to all reviewers at least two days before the review. In your distribution email, set the expectation that reviewers will have read the narratives before the review session.


These investments in supporting writers and making clear and thoughtful annotations enable more successful Red Team reviews and create early momentum towards a complete, compliant and strategic response.

Next week: Managing the Red Team Review


Need help with proposal processes?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

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




Preparing narrative writers

 July 9, 2019
by Paul Heron

This month’s blog series explores managing large narratives. This post explains how to set up proposal writers to be successful.Most content developers are not professional writers. They typically have other responsibilities as their main focus and fit proposal writing in among those other tasks. When assigned a set of RFP questions, they’re likely to reuse existing content, borrow from supplier marketing material, or find other workarounds to avoid drafting original copy.

The most effective way to counter these inclinations is with tools and processes that establish expectations and make it easier to write compelling responses. Main items include:

Proposal strategy

Share your team’s win strategy with content developers to build coherence and consistency across sections. Aim for a document that goes beyond one-liners (We’re local! We have experience!) but is concise (one-to-three pages), so writers will read it. Include section-level win themes or strategy statements, so each writer understands how the strategy should be expressed in his or her content. For details, see this post on proposal strategy making.

Templates and prompts

A well-built template enables writers to easily understand the structure of their sections and to avoid wasting time replying to unscored questions (as often happens), omitting key points, or misunderstanding how their responses should be structured. Include defined styles for all types of content required (body copy, main heads, multiple subheads, captions, callouts, tables, two-level bullet lists, numbered lists, etc.). We’ll devote a future post to templates.

Prompts are the single most helpful tool you can give writers. Each should address a single question and include elements of a complete response and guidance on structure. For example, for the question, “Provide staffing details for the operations team,” the prompt might read: Structure this as a table, with a row for each role and columns for Responsibilities, Head count, Shifts, Reports to. Asterisk key individuals and refer in text to subsection containing resumes. If space permits, include a snippet of the org chart showing the operations team.

Style guide

We customize our in-house style guide for each opportunity, mainly for use by our editors. We provide writers with items they are most likely to use, including naming conventions and short forms for the proposal consortium and teams (Design-Build Team, etc.), RFP sponsor and reference projects; abbreviations for measurements, dates, etc., and capitalization rules. Editing time is reduced to the extent drafters observe these guidelines.


For tightly page-limited proposals, section storyboards can be very helpful in deciding how to use the pages allotted for responses. We use these especially in RFQ responses.


Take time to prepare and run a kickoff that will help writers understand the importance of the pursuit, expectations for their roles and the schedule and protocols for managing content. See this series of posts on proposal kickoff goals, preparation, people and agenda.

Organization and management tools

Although not the focus of this month’s posts, you’ll need the following two tools to manage any large proposal

  • Project schedule: Include all key dates to submission, including kickoff, submission deadlines ahead of reviews, review dates, print deadlines, etc.
  • ATOC: We use an annotated table of contents (ATOC) in the form of an Excel worksheet as a responsibilities matrix and deliverables tracker. A second worksheet contains contact information for all team members, and a third contains a calendar-format picture of the project schedule key dates.

Why invest this effort in preparing writers?

Properly prepared, most writers will produce compliant and responsive first drafts, which can then be managed in an orderly way to completion. Without preparation (and we see this all the time), drafts are all over the map, resulting in a small group working nights and weekends near the deadline to deliver a proposal with which no one is happy.

Next week: Pre-Red Team management


Need help managing large proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

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




Managing large narratives

 July 2, 2019
by Paul Heron

Good management practice gets the proposal writing team aligned at the outset, and then reviews and provides helpful feedback on drafts at key milestones to submission. This approach is especially critical to achieving logical consistency and one voice in large responses where proposal teams often include individuals working remotely and for multiple entities.

Upcoming posts will cover key steps in narrative management, including:

  • Preparing writers for success
  • Pre-Red Team management
  • Managing Red Team reviews
  • Red Team to submission

Basic ingredients for success

In addition to careful management, successful proposals express strategy and reader focus. For guidance on these two components and links to learn more, see below.

Strategy: We’ve written dozens of posts on strategy. Bottom line: You need to develop a cogent win strategy before kicking off content development. Your strategy needs to:

Even in the tightest of response windows, time spent on developing and expressing strategy is well-spent.

Reader focus: Strategy expresses client focus at the business-level—but a proposal also needs to appeal to individual evaluators and decision makers. Personal knowledge of the prospect organization is the gold standard. For this reason, business developers pursuing large procurements can spend years building relationships with the individuals in the prospect organization. Whether or not you have the benefit of that insight, recognize that:

  • Evaluators are typically recruited to the task from their normal duties and may not be fully engaged. They often use a scoring guide to quickly skim content looking for scorable facts and benefits that might qualify for bonus points. Use this awareness to manage content towards plain English. When applicable, structure content into bullet points and tables and use visualization to make key benefits and differentiators stand out.
  • In addition to personal preferences, evaluators will assume different roles as economic buyers, technical buyers and user buyers. In managing content, subject responses to these different perspectives to avoid gaps in your sales argument.
  • Expect every reader to continually ask, “What’s in it for me?” Apply this WIIFM test to all content and prepare to brutally excise verbiage (no matter how elegantly written) that qualifies as mere filler without answering the question. NOTE: Often one question’s filler can be re-deployed as another’s response.

Remember the goals

A successful proposal uses resources efficiently, meets the deadline and makes the best possible case for your team and solution. Achieving this—especially when the team involves many members—requires close management, as much the quality of the offer itself.

Next week: Setting up writers for success


Need help developing stronger proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

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




Win-loss review analyses

 June 25, 2019
by Paul Heron

Recent posts have focused on setting up a bid win-loss review process, conducting bid win-loss interviews and reporting on bid win-loss reviews.

Companies conducting large numbers of reviews per year should also consider using win-loss analyses to aggregate review data to see performance patterns and trends. This post will show you how to get started.

Create headers

  • Brainstorm all the parameters against which you might want to analyze results. Examples of common header items include:
  • Bid review tracking number (if used)
  • Bid/No bid decision score (if known)
  • Result (win or loss)
  • Winner
  • Incumbent (use a code for each key competitor)
  • Product category
  • Sales territory
  • Client type (e.g. by industrial category)
  • Pre-RFP sales contact
  • Degree to which you were able to shape the RFP
  • Prospect is/is not a current client

NOTE: The headers you choose will determine the ways you can sort bid results to see what’s happening. Selecting header items is an important step with long-term consequences. While you can always add new headers later, you will only be able to use those new items to analyze future bids—unless you go back and reconstruct historical header data.

Now, add placeholders for the header items to your review format, so you collect all header items each time you perform a review. Assign a code to each header item, using letters or numbers.

Add quantitative questions to each section

For each of the interview areas (refer to our earlier post on win-loss reviews), add a question that can be scored numerically. For example, to the questions on responsiveness, add the following (or a similar) question:

  •  “Overall, on a scale of 1 to 5, how well did XYZ Co. demonstrate it understood your needs?”

You can also ask:

  • IF A WIN: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the next closest bidder on responsiveness?”
  • IF A LOSS: “Again on a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rank the winning bidder on responsiveness?”

To obtain high quality responses, ask your quantitative questions at the end of each section, rather than grouping them as a separate set of questions.

Assemble the review data and analyze

Input the header information and quantitative responses to a database or Excel spreadsheet. Over time you will be able to answer questions such as:

  • How does pre-RFP sales contact affect our win rate?
  • What is our responsiveness score on winning bids vs. losses?
  • Does our loss rate as incumbent vary by territory?

Of course, the headers you assign and the questions you ask will depend on your specific business.


Need help understanding your bid performance?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

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




Win-loss review reporting

 June 18, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last week we posted on how to plan and conduct win-loss interviews. This week, we’ll look at reporting the feedback.

Aim to write a brief, plain language report likely to get read by senior managers and executives. Structuring, formatting and writing for reader friendliness are especially important if you report on two or more win-loss reviews per month.

Develop a report format

Build your report around the interview guide. Set out each question in bold face or italics, followed by a summary of the interviewee’s response. Keep these summaries very concise for all but prospect comments significant to the outcome. 

Wherever possible, include direct quotes. Many senior executives have little direct client contact and are eager for any chance to hear the “voice of the customer.” Direct quotes that align with the response summaries and that “ring true” (that is, actually sound like a person speaking) will help your reports get attention and action.

Open with a summary

Begin each report with an overall summary of the interview. Explain in one or two short paragraphs why you won or lost the opportunity. Lead with the most important point.

Busy reviewers may only read the summary. Therefore, follow the opening paragraph(s) with three to five bullet points taken from responses that support your summary. Include the question reference for each bullet point, in case the reader wants to investigate further.

Take care to ensure your summary is balanced—that it accurately reflects the prospect’s overall message and doesn’t give undue weight to some aspect that may have impressed you or the interviewer.

Decide whether to include internal interview findings

Some companies include a brief section highlighting any disconnects between the internal team’s analysis of a bid loss and the prospect’s feedback. Decide as a team whether this should be part of the report or documented separately as part of a sales discovery and process improvement project.

Next step: Win-loss analyses

Win-loss reviews focus on individual bid opportunities; win-loss analyses reveal patterns and trends in bid wins. Next week we’ll look at how to structure and manage win-loss reviews to enable analysis.

Next week: How to conduct a win-loss analysis



Need help learning from your wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear

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




Win-loss interviews

 June 11, 2019
by Paul Heron

Last week’s post introduced win-loss reviews and suggested question categories. This post covers planning and conducting the interviews.

Develop an interview guide

For each category (responsiveness, process, etc.) described in last week’s post—and any others you've added—draft open-ended questions that invite a candid assessment of your performance. For example: Instead of asking “Did SellerCo show it understood your requirements?” ask, “Compared to other respondents, how well did SellerCo demonstrate it understood your requirements?” The first version asks for a yes or no response, while the second invites the interviewee to provide a ranking and allows for a follow up question, such as, “What did higher-ranked respondents do to earn additional evaluation points?”

Limit your questions to four per area, to allow time for follow-up questions as above. Including too many questions results in rushed, perfunctory interviews. What you want is a thoughtful exchange that produces deeper insights.

Circulate the guide and get buy-in from your bid team and management.

Conduct internal and external interviews

  • Internal interviews: Internal interviews provide insights that make the prospect interview(s) more productive. They also indicate how accurately your team assesses its client relationship and understands the client's needs.

Interview the proposal manager and relationship manager and document their responses to each of your questions. They won’t have the same information as the prospect (see below)—but will provide an internal baseline for comparison.

  • Prospect interview(s): Make appointments with the bid issuer’s decision-maker(s). Request a number and time to call and provide an estimate of the time required. We’ve found a reasonable duration is 45-60 minutes. Emphasize that this is business improvement exercise—not a sales call or an effort to revisit the bid decision. Most issuers recognize they have a responsibility—and that it’s in their interests—to help vendors improve. If a prospect flat-out refuses your win-loss interview requests, consider whether it’s worth continuing to bid.

Note: Some issuers have their own disclosure process. If it doesn’t address your information needs, request a separate interview to gather missing information.

Remain neutral, capture quotes

When conducting external interviews, speak in a neutral tone and refer to your company by name, rather than using “we,” “us” and “our.” This matter-of-fact approach will put interviewees at ease and produce better quality information.

Capture responses as much as possible in the interviewee’s own words. Using direct quotes in your report will give it much more impact and credibility among your company’s leadership.

Consider using a third party

Companies with high bid volumes often use third parties, such as Complex2Clear, to conduct and report on win-loss interviews. A third-party interviewer removes any decision-maker reluctance to be candid. Internally, using an unbiased outside contractor may give the results more credibility.

Next week: Win-loss reports and analyses


Need help improving your review and analysis of wins and losses?

Contact Complex2Clear




Photo credit

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




Win-loss reviews

 June 4, 2019
by Paul Heron

Given the effort an RFP response takes, it only makes sense to investigate the outcome. This is especially true if you frequently bid on the same or similar services. Formal win-loss reviews are the key to understanding why you win or lose bids—and how to improve your future results.

A robust win-loss review process starts with a comprehensive set of questions.

Address all aspects of the bid

Segment your process to include questions on:

  • Relationship: How deep and wide are your prospect relationships? How effective was your team’s pre-RFP engagement? If the prospect is a current client, which aspects of your current relationship are strongest and weakest?
  • Process: How did your team handle the bid response? Was the solution responsive to the issuer’s strategic drivers and hot button issues? Was your proposal visually appealing and easy to read and understand?
  • Value proposition: How did your offering stack up against the competition? Was it well aligned with the requirements? Did you prove your team could deliver the solution? Were value-added components seen as responsive and well defined?
  • Positioning: In which aspects was your offer superior? Where did competitors score higher? How does the issuer see your company, team and ability to perform relative to your main competitors? How does your relationship compare to other bidders’ relationships?
  • Price: Was your pricing clearly presented? How did your price compare with other bidders? Did other bidders offer bundles or plans that affected the decision? How much higher (or lower) was your price than the successful (or closest competitor)?

Customize and refine your questions

Make your questions as specific as possible and tailor them to suit your business. For example, RFPs in some industries typically include pricing tables for completion. This will affect how you structure questions on price.

Test the questions internally and refine them until they are complete and clear.

Next steps

Once you’re satisfied with your questions, the next step is to plan and execute successful interviews. We’ll explore how to do this in next week’s post.

Next week: Conducting win-loss interviews



Need help building an effective win-loss review process?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

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




Informal proposal selling

 May 28, 2019
by Paul Heron

This month we’re focussing on informal proposals—those submitted after conversations with a prospect, but outside a formal RFP process.

An informal proposal saves the buyer the time and effort of creating an RFP and managing the evaluation process. Meanwhile, the seller avoids the risk of an open competition—and retains control over the format and contents of the offer submitted.

For these reasons, it makes sense to invest ahead of time in building a modular informal proposal template and adapting it to each new opportunity.

Make the informal proposal part of the sales call

To realize the full power of your informal proposal, use it to guide sales conversations. The idea, illustrated below, is to (1) be familiar with the pre-built content (V1), and then to use the discussion (2) to inform customization, while (2) shaping the prospect’s expectations of the proposal (V2) he or she will receive.

Review the template before the meeting

Spend a few minutes reviewing the modules in your template before the call during which you expect to ask permission to submit a proposal.

Review any notes from previous calls and identify gaps in the information needed to adapt the template for this prospect. Pay special attention to modules that require high customization(e.g. understanding of needs and hot button issues, solution detail, implementation schedule).

Shape the conversation around the proposal

You can expect your primary contact to advocate for your offer generally—but not to address issues it doesn’t cover. For this reason, aim to leave the meeting fully able to adapt your template into a proposal that will create confidence in both your team and solution.

Once your prospect agrees to a proposal, state you want him or her to be completely comfortable sharing it with colleagues and decision makers. Ask if you can take a few minutes to make sure it addresses any questions others may have.

On this basis, you can say something like, “The proposal will address your requirements and issues, describe our solution and proposed timeline and provide information on our company and team. I just want to ensure we answer any other items you and your colleagues might have.” Then use your knowledge of the prospect and project to probe for gaps in your template.

Ask for input on optional modules

Depending on the situation, this may be a good time to get feedback on whether to include modules you consider optional. For example:

  • “For some clients we include a section on project risks and our mitigation approach. Is that something your team would find helpful?”
  • “If you are considering other options, we could include a pros and cons table comparing our solution with others. Would that make your job easier?”
  • “Should we include our standard terms and conditions—or will we do that as part of contracting?”

After confirming your prospect is comfortable with everything discussed, mention the number of pages you plan to submit and check that length is acceptable.

Worth the work

If this plan seems like a lot of work, consider your options. You can submit boilerplate proposals likely to lead to RFPs or invest in a fully customized proposal for each opportunity.

A modular template with one or more calls to guide customization is a more effective path to success.



Need help improving your 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 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.

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/
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.

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 



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