Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

 

Developing differentiators

 March 20, 2018
by Paul Heron

Bidders often squander potential advantage by talking about their differentiators in general terms. Avoid this mistake by adding specifics that make your claims more difficult to match.

This post explains how to better differentiate your team, performance, experience and understanding of the project.

Add specifics to make team claims stronger

In the team leader statements below, note how adding the leader’s name and specific experience increases the selling power in versions two and three: 

  1. Weak: Our proposed team leader has more than 10 years of experience.
  2. Stronger: Julia Menéndez, our proposed team leader, has successfully managed implementations similar to yours since 2001.
  3. Strongest: Julia Menéndez, our proposed team leader, has managed eight similar implementations on time and on budget since 2001, including two in the past year that use the AZ300 technology we recommend for this project.

Add specifics to performance claims

See how adding specifics to performance in a particular area sharpens your performance advantage over competitors. Apply this in other performance areas relevant to your business and the project you’re pursuing. Use statistics, awards, client testimonials and audit results to back up your performance claims.

  1. Weak: We have an excellent on-time, on-budget project completion record.
  2. Stronger: In the past five years, we’ve had a perfect on-time and on-budget completion record across 35 projects.
  3. Strongest: In the past five years, we’ve had a perfect completion record of 35 on time, on budget projects—including 8 brownfield projects similar in size and scope to yours. This performance earned us the 2014 Builder of the Year award from the Ontario Construction Association.

Add specifics to experience claims

Here’s how to build selling power using specifics in your experience claims.

  1. Weak: We developed and delivered more than 100 websites in the past three years.
  2. Stronger: In 2014, we completed 12 e-commerce sites, including 6 with requirements very similar to yours.
  3. Strongest: In 2014, we built 12 e-commerce sites, including 6 with requirements similar to yours. The table below contains the URLs for these 6 sites with columns aligning with your 5 top functionality requirements.

Show you understand the project

Prospects are naturally most comfortable awarding contracts—especially for complex solutions and/or ongoing support—to vendors who clearly understand their strategic drivers and the hot button issues they care about.

Use notes from pre-RFP discovery conversations to show you are responding to the prospect’s needs. Wherever possible use the same language as the prospect. Tie features of your proposed approach and solution directly to your prospect’s overall strategy and expressed needs and wants.

What if you can’t make strong, specific claims?

If you have no areas where you can claim superiority, you need to ask whether you should bid at all. Using a disciplined bid/no-bid decision process will help you avoid spending effort on unwinnable bids.

Another decision point is after you’ve fleshed out your strategy, but before kick off. Sometimes an opportunity that seemed worth pursuing looks shaky when subjected to a post-strategy review (See our posts on conducting proposal Blue Team and Black Hat reviews).

If post-strategy reviews paint a bleak picture of your prospects, the best course is to swallow your pride and pull the plug.

Consider getting help

Many bidders have trouble identifying and maximizing their differentiation opportunities. If you suspect this is true in your case, please follow the link below.

Next week: Expressing differentiators in your proposals

 

Need help standing out from your competition?

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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