Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.


Managing sales discovery

 October 30, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month we’ve covered understanding prospects—including the economic buyer, technical buyer and user buyer—and how to organize and position features and benefits for each buyer type.

While it’s helpful to strategize around buyer types, nothing beats knowing the actual decision makers. Knowledge lets you address actual strategic drivers and hot button issues, not just generic buyer types.

Gaining insight into prospects’ needs and wants is a key function of business development. That’s what this post is about.

What should business developers actually do?

If you sell via formal proposals, chances are you’re in a long-cycle, high-stakes business. The occasional brief sales call won’t win contracts. Even cultivating a warm relationship may not be enough, given the rigorous bid processes typically in place for large purchases.

Don’t settle for: “He loves me—our kids play soccer together.” Instead, expect your business developers to go deep inside prospect organizations, meet several people and get answers to specific questions.

Make a to-do list for business developers

Define what your developers need to do. Here’s our list:

  • Gain the prospect’s respect: Cultivate respect by learning enough to be able to ask intelligent questions and offer ideas that resonate. As primary contacts develop confidence in your business developer, they’ll want to bring other decision makers into the conversation.
  • Identify strategic drivers: Knowing your prospect’s specific challenges and opportunities (cost pressures, disruptive technologies, new competitors) is essential to building a client-focussed strategy. This needs to be part of business developer conversations.
  • Get to know evaluators: Developers should try to meet with those likely to evaluate their proposals for two reasons: 1. To learn their key motivators and issues; 2. To show them you want to address their specific needs. A business developer who is trusted (see point 1 above) should be able to obtain these intros. 
  • Find out what’s coming: Learn about RFP timing for upcoming requirements and termination dates for existing contracts held by competitors. A company should never be caught off-guard by RFPs from prospects its developers have targeted. 
  • Document everything: Ask developers to document conversations immediately after each call. Get them to capture key items in the prospect’s words, if possible, so you can play them back in your response. 

Success takes science and hard work

Business development is both art and science. But success owes more to science than to art. Setting specific relationship and information-gathering goals—and then following up—will identify which developers are up to the job.

This post sets a high bar. You can decide where to set yours.

Next month: Value propositions for buyer types




Need help with a pre-RFP approaches for large bid opportunities?

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Photo credit

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




Profile: User buyer

 October 23, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month we’ve posted on understanding prospects, including the economic buyer and technical buyer. Today we’ll look at users, the third main buyer type.

User buyers are part of the evaluation team in any RFP for services. They represent individuals who will be directly impacted by your proposed solution. They know first-hand the lost weekends and career damage that result from poorly planned implementations, and that not all “improvements” actually make their lives better. As a result, they’re wary of change in general.

Appealing to the user buyer

User buyers will focus on your transition and their role in making your solution work. Anticipate and answer these questions:

  • Does the implementation plan make sense? Describe your transition plan, including a detailed schedule and milestones. User buyers will want to see pre-transition consultation and user training. Identify key members of your transition team and their experience. If you have a clean record of on-time, on-budget implementations, include details of similar projects with references.
  • Is your solution reliable and easy to use? Cite accepted measures of reliability and ease of use for your industry. Identify specific activities that will become easier using your solution—for example, form fields that auto fill as a result of file integration. If available, include survey results showing current user acceptance.
  • Are maintenance and support included and robust? User buyers will want to know how ongoing needs will be met. Is there a help desk providing a single point of contact? If the prospect is large, are you offering a dedicated account manager? Can you include a response time promise for emergency and non-emergency issues?
  • Is your solution safe? If relevant, explain your safety management plan. Include safety records for other sites, using standard measures, such as recordable injuries and lost-time accidents.
  • How do you propose to manage issues? Cite existing contracts with service level agreements similar to those required by the RFP. Provide case examples where you have successfully resolved issues that could have impacted a client’s employees and/or customers.
  • How will your solution affect morale? This is the subtext for all user buyer concerns. Will workload increase or decrease? Will customer issues be easier or harder to resolve? Will I face more or fewer upset customers? Allay these fears with case studies, survey results, etc. that cite specifics.

In every case avoid assurances unless you can prove you’re able to follow through. User buyers selected as evaluators are immune to empty promises.

What about non-services contracts?

Bidders on construction projects, for example, should adopt user buyer thinking when describing their approaches to governance and reporting, stakeholder communications, traffic management and similar requirements. In each case, evaluators will be asking: Will this plan make our lives easier by arming us with the information we’ll need and minimizing negative feedback from outside stakeholders? 

How much clout do user buyers have?

User buyers usually have less formal status than other evaluators. Also, they tend to base conclusions on emotional and subjective factors, rather than hard facts. These factors can reduce their influence on evaluation outcomes, compared to technical buyers. On the other hand, user buyer issues are typically respected by other evaluators and help shape the consensus.

Win them over now

User buyers represent the front-line people who will implement and use your solution. For better or worse, they will have a large impact on its eventual success. Get them onside early by respecting their concerns in your proposal by including their issues when making strategy.


Need help writing more client focused proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

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




Profile: Technical buyer

 October 16, 2018
by Paul Heron

Technical buyers are gatekeepers. They don’t have the economic buyer’s power to make the final decision—but they can keep your proposal from getting shortlisted.

Technical buyers use specialized knowledge to analyse whether solutions meet the RFP requirements. Because their arguments are based on facts, technical buyer findings command respect.

Technical buyers are not all techies

The label “technical buyer” suggests a technology specialist. But the term refers to any evaluator applying specialized knowledge. Technical buyers include:

  • A contracts manager, who evaluates how performance, cost savings, on-time, on-budget delivery, service levels and other specifics can be built into an enforceable agreement with appropriate remedies
  • A risk management specialist, who will examine a solution’s impact on corporate security, liability and insurance
  • A regulatory manager, who can evaluate for compliance with applicable laws and regulations

Writing for technical buyers

Technical buyers are not swayed by general arguments. They typically use checklists to search bid responses for specifics. They aim to gather and marshal facts on which to base their recommendations.

To appeal to technical buyers:

  • Begin by understanding their needs: Identify all technical evaluator issues as a part of your strategy and create checklists by section as part of pre-kick off planning.
  • Prove your solution meets requirements: Create a compliance matrix of all features required in the RFP and show how your solution satisfies each requirement. Use quantitative measures wherever possible. 
  • Address potential technical concerns: For example, in an IT proposal, clearly explain that you’ve recommended an older technology or software version to ensure compatibility with legacy systems. Alternatively, show that your next-generation solution is robust, well accepted and compatible with the prospect’s existing systems. If possible, prove your arguments by citing an authoritative third party.
  • Ghost your competition: Use phrasing such as, “some vendors will offer . . . but we” to position your solution’s strengths against those of other known bidders. This is especially important if you offer a disruptive or new-to-the-market technology and the RFP calls for old technology.

Localize technical information and arguments

Many technical buyers don’t read proposals. Instead, they immediately jump to the contents page, and then to sections containing the information they need. So keep any explanations close to the facts they’ll seek.

Use fact-based graphics and/or callouts to highlight your defence of any features that could be considered non-compliant. 

Respect the technical buyers’ credibility

Their fact-based reasoning enables technical buyers to express their conclusions more objectively than other evaluators. This often gives them outsize clout with decision makers. In a close competition, it’s usually technical buyers who cite differentiators that give one or two bidders an edge over others.

For this reason alone, it’s critical to anticipate and satisfy technical buyer needs.


Need help writing more client focused proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

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




Profile: Economic buyer

 October 9, 2018
by Paul Heron

Last month, we posted on the need to think deeper than the RFP language if you want to win large contracts. Part of this is understanding the buying process and those who will influence the purchase decision.

This post profiles the economic buyer, the ultimate decision maker in complex sales. Only he or she can say yes—although technical buyers and user buyers may also influence the decision.

About the economic buyer

The economic buyer, often referred to as “the one who writes the cheque,” is typically a senior executive, often an owner or business unit leader. This individual typically focuses on value for money and is willing to make trade-offs to get the best deal. The economic buyer relies on recommendations from the other buyer types, but bears ultimate responsibility for the purchase. Often he or she gets involved late, after compliance and major technical thresholds have been satisfied.

So how do you appeal to the economic buyer for your proposal?

Show strategic fit and economic value

Economic buyers come closest to representing the strategic needs of the prospect. Get buy-in from these buyers by arguing that your solution:

  • Aligns with the purchaser’s vision and strategy: Connect the immediate purchase to the buyer’s corporate vision and/or strategy, based on first-hand conversation, the company website, annual report, or public remarks.
  • Achieves business goals: Cite specific goals from your sales conversations or other sources and show how your solution will achieve them.
  • Fits the budget: Show the cost of your solution is within the budget range for the required features and performance
  • Offers business improvements: Demonstrate how you will improve productivity, growth, competitiveness and/or profitability

If you offer the most price-competitive solution, stress that it fulfills all requirements at the lowest cost. If your price is higher, use a lifetime costs model to show how your extended warranty, higher performance, ease of use, lower maintenance and/or other factors justify the higher initial cost. Economic buyers will consider cash flow as well as accrual impacts, so use both in your arguments. Because the economic buyer is likely to spend little time with your proposal, make bite-sized arguments in section summaries, captions and call outs.

Don’t leave it to the evaluators to figure out your price competitiveness. If you can do so within the rules, ghost your competition—even in proposals that do not include prices, or where pricing is evaluated separately.

Hot button issues

Because of the power economic buyers have, prioritize discovering and addressing their key issues in your sales discovery.

When preparing an unsolicited proposal, check out the economic buyer’s online presence (LinkedIn, public remarks) for possible sources of information on his or her hot buttons. 

Do economic buyers even read proposals?

Depending on the individual and the situation, the economic buyer may be highly involved—or a rubber stamp.

Business owners are almost certain to be involved and may also be the main technical buyer. In large public organizations, the final sign-off may be a formality—especially for small contracts with limited impact on the organization. In some cases, a committee will make the decision.

But that doesn’t mean you can skip the economic buyer arguments. When making its recommendation, the evaluation team will still want to position a solution as the best combination of cost and value--especially if they are not recommending the lowest priced solution.  


Need help with an important bid proposal?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

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




Understanding prospects

 October 2, 2018
by Paul Heron

Low bids lose RFP competitions when evaluators have doubts about the technical solution’s reliability or completeness, or the vendor’s ability to perform, or to meet the delivery schedule, or some other aspect of the bidder’s offer.

And nothing raises doubts like a bidder who fails to show insight about the issuer and its needs. When a response simply parrots back the RFP requirements, evaluators can’t risk assuming the bidder understands.

Thinking beyond the RFP

For obvious reasons, RFPs don’t include issuer motives such as “due to a 20 percent drop in market share” or “because of persistent quality issues with our products.” But most prospects willing to make a large financial investment are responding to some current or anticipated pain.

Your job is to trace the “chain of pain” so you can tailor a solution to address it—and express through your offer that you understand. Do that with:

  1. Sales discovery: Effective business developers build relationships and work to understand exactly what’s needed, which departments are impacted, who are likely to evaluate the responses and who is driving the process. This firsthand knowledge is ideal for strategy planning. If this is not available, try options 2 and 3.
  2. Research the prospect: Visit the company website. If it’s publicly traded, check its most recent MD&A, shareholder letters and press releases. Read the analysts’ reports. Look for mentions in trade and business publications. Google for media mentions of senior executives by name.
  3. Research comparable companies: Search the Web for similar companies. What issues are they facing? Google combinations of your prospect’s name and those of its main competitors to uncover rivalries and who is winning. Search financial news sites for industry trends.

Even without firsthand knowledge, an hour on Google may help you shape a solution that responds to your prospect’s unstated needs.

Thinking about who’ll make the decision

In the end, companies don’t feel pain—people do. So you need to learn who will be involved in the contract decision and how to appeal to each. That's the next stage in your research.

One classic approach to buyer theory defines three categories corresponding to organizational roles:

  • Economic buyers are the final decision makers—they “write the cheque.”
  • Technical buyers are specialists who analyse technical features and act as gatekeepers
  • User buyers are those most directly impacted by the solution

The next three posts will look more closely at these buyer types and how to craft value propositions that show you understand and will satisfy their main concerns.

Next week: Appealing to the economic buyer


Need help developing more effective proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

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




Copyediting proposals

 September 25, 2018
by Paul Heron

Earlier posts this month included developing content prompts for proposal writers, managing early drafts and structural editing. Approaching content management and editing systematically improves efficiency and helps avoid last-minute rewrites.

Copyediting is the next step. Sections should now be complete, compliant, well-organized and should express the win strategy. The proposal should also be in a template that uses styles to format heads and subheads , body text, lists, tables, captions, etc.

Copyediting basics

Copyediting aims to remove any remaining impediments to evaluators engaging with and understanding your offer. Prime offenders include complex and/or awkwardly structured sentences and paragraphs, confusing words and phrases, uneven formatting (including section and subsection numbering) and inconsistent use of acronyms, abbreviations, capitalization, references, etc.

At a minimum, copy editors should do the following:

  • Match the language to the prospect (U.S. English proposals for U.S. prospects, Canadian English proposals for Canadian prospects, etc.). Update the template styles to the correct version, if necessary. To reconfirm, select all, set the language preference in Word, enable check spelling, and correct any misspellings.
  • Use styles for formatting. In Word, on the Home tab, click on the Styles pane and then select Show Styles Guides and Show Direct Formatting Guides.
  • Edit to a consistent voice. Use similar syntax (short declarative sentences, devoid of bafflegab, clichés, superlatives, and idiosyncratic expressions).
  • Be consistent in using pronouns, punctuation, abbreviations, acronyms, figure and table numbering and captioning.
  • Align formatting of tables. Text size, colours, shading, border colour and line weight should be consistent.
  • Use lists consistently. This blog post provides guidelines for using lists in proposals.
  • For joint venture or consortium proposals, develop and observe guidelines for referring to team members, key individuals, reference projects, and for the use of first- and third-person pronouns when referring to the J-V or consortium and its members.

The best way to ensure high quality results is to edit in several sweeps. Choose one or two items from the list above and focus on checking just those requirements. If copyediting reveals gaps or other major flaws, flag these with comments for review and correction.

Develop and use a style guide

A style guide is indispensable for consistent copyediting—especially if proposals will be copyedited by two or more individuals. If you develop proposals regularly, consider building a guide tailored to your business. The U.S. Plain Language Guidelines are a good starting point.

Copyediting support tools

A downloadable or cloud-based support tool, such as PerfectIt or Grammarly, can improve editing speed and consistency. You can also use Word’s advanced search function to find repeat errors—but be very careful of accepting “Replace all,” which can have unintended results. Always create a new version before making global changes.

The payoff

Evaluators read to scan and score proposals. They have little patience for irrelevant or confusing content. Edits that produce clear, persuasive proposals will dramatically improve the attention your offer receives, your technical score—and your wins.


Need help writing stronger proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear

Photo credit

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




Structural editing

 September 18, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month’s blog theme is editing proposal content. The goals are to make efficient use of resources and to avoid last minute rewrite marathons.

If you haven’t already read the posts on Developing content prompts and Managing early drafts, please do so now. They contain useful background to this post.

Structural editing (also called strategic editing) aims to ensure content responds to the RFP questions—but also that it:

  • Is logically organized
  • Contains no redundant or non-responsive content
  • Addresses the issuer’s strategic requirements and hot button issues
  • Positions the offer against known competitive strengths and weaknesses
  • Takes advantage of visualization to improve readability and persuasiveness

Before you start

Revisit the RFP requirements, evaluation criteria and scoring system, and the team’s win strategy. Review any content prompts, section outlines, or other direction provided to content developers at kickoff.

Because structural editing requires context and bold changes, the best choice for this job is often the proposal manager or another senior team member.

Structural editing process

Read the entire section without making edits. Structural editing is about adjusting structure, not sentences. If you struggle to resist copyediting while reading, try sitting on your hands. (Seriously—it works!)

Evaluate each response for structural logic and completeness. For example, if the RFP requires:

  • A yes/no or numerical answer, make this the first sentence of the response, followed by additional information, if needed.
  • A plan or approach, compare the response against the prompts or approved section outline or bullet point analysis. Restructure the response as needed. If no prompts were provided, improve the logical flow of the response as necessary.
  • Similar long-form responses (e.g. “Describe the team’s experience in . . “) in multiple sections, align the structure of all the corresponding responses, to the extent possible.

Identify the following and take the actions indicated:

  • Gaps. Solution: Highlight and comment, referring to RFP ask
  • Non-responsive and/or non-compliant content. Solution: Highlight and add comment.
  • Redundant content. Solution: Merge or cut.
  • Empty content, platitudes. Solution: Delete.

Look for opportunities to:

  • Convert plain text to tables or lists. Solution: Convert as appropriate. Consider using bulleted lists instead of text strings of five or more items. Use tables to show relationships, such as pros and cons, events and consequences (e.g. a risk management matrix), chronology, etc.
  • Visualize key ideas. Solution: Convert plain text to graphics to highlight important benefits and advantages. If your team is new to using visualization, Complex2Clear's proposal blog index links to several posts. See column “V”.

Make clear, constructive comments. Structural editing usually exposes gaps and creates other work for the content drafter, who may not have your strategic perspective. If you’ve made dramatic changes to the draft, call or meet with the writer to walk through your reasoning and next steps.

The payoff

Strong structural edits transform proposals. This step unifies multi-author responses, giving evaluators the sense that the proponent team is cohesive and well-organized, with a clarity of purpose and approach. Well-structured proposals are also easier to read and score.



Need help improving your proposal editing process?

Contact Complex2Clear

Photo credit

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




Managing early drafts

 September 11, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month’s posts examine management tools and techniques to help proposal teams avoid last minute rewrites. Last week we explained why and how to use proposal narrative prompts.

This post looks at managing writers’ initial drafts.

First rule: Don’t wait

Don’t make the mistake of scheduling your first content deadline more than one week after kick-off. If your writers are new to proposal writing or have other priorities, you’ll likely find they put off proposal responsibilities, if allowed.

Giving writers two or more weeks to produce first drafts, especially when the response window is tight, almost guarantees a last-minute crunch.

Schedule a bullet-point review

Rather than requesting a complete first draft, consider asking content developers to analyse their sections and produce a bullet point outline within a few days. This does two things:

  • Gets writers thinking about their sections immediately after kick-off
  • Provides an indication of which writers can and will keep commitments

Maintain momentum by reviewing each writer’s outline when submitted. Involve the writer and evaluate for compliance, logical structure and use of win themes. Based on the results, either approve for drafting or request an improved outline.

On large projects, consider asking a “Pink Team,” comprised of the proposal leaders, to evaluate and comment on these bullet point outlines.

Triage first drafts on receipt

Whether or not you include a bullet-point stage, assess drafts immediately on receipt to decide whether they meet minimum standards for inclusion in a combined draft. Evaluate against two standards:

  • Is the draft compliant—that is, does it answer the question(s)?
  • Is it substantially complete? (We consider 75% as substantially complete.)

Mark up and return drafts that fail this review for rework and escalate as appropriate. Energy spent trying to rework substandard content is better invested in improving already strong copy. Accepting weak drafts also trains writers to submit poor work.

Speed is critical

Notice our emphasis on turning around outlines and first drafts quickly. Time is always short in developing proposals, making it hard to regain lost momentum.

Even on large proposals, two or three editors typically edit all drafts from a dozen or more writers. Producing a clear, compelling submission that includes win themes and rich visualization takes time—which means those editors need to start with strong first drafts.

Next week: Structural editing



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 




Developing content prompts

 September 4, 2018
by Paul Heron

Nearly every proposal team has had to rewrite major sections just before a deadline. These marathons typically stem from a last-minute realization that the content doesn't answer the questions. They take a toll on everyone and produce final submissions well below early expectations. 

This month’s posts explain how to avoid major rewrites.

NOTE: This approach assumes the proposal leads have taken time to analyses the RFP and develop a strategy and win themes. See this post for more on proposal strategy making.

Narrative guides and prompts

To improve first drafts, do not simply distribute the RFP to your content developers. Instead, plan and execute a proposal kickoff and give writers their sections, together with a set of prompts for answering each question.

Prompts need to be written by someone who understands the project, the prospect, likely competitors, and the team’s solution and win strategy. Develop prompts to:

  • Ensure compliance
  • Show responsiveness and to position the offer against competitors
  • Promote consistent structure 

Prompt for compliance

For complex, multi-part questions, identify all elements of a fully compliant response in a bullet point list. 

Prompt for responsiveness and positioning

To ensure the draft considers responsiveness and positioning, develop prompts such as:

  • How does our solution address the prospect’s key strategic requirements and hot button issues? Using the win themes provided, tie the solution to 2-4 prospect needs.
  • What trade-offs (if any) did we make in deciding to recommend this solution? 
  • In what specific ways is our solution superior to those of likely competitors? See competitive solutions matrix for guidance.

Prompt for structure

Consistent structure signals a cohesive team and leadership, and is especially important in RFQ responses, which typically contain high-value approach sections. See this post on consistent proposal structure for more on this topic.

The following prompts recommend a logical structure adaptable to all sections that require approaches and plans:

  • Cite 4-6 concepts or principles that underpin our approach to this deliverable. These are items that, when followed, produce successful outcomes
  • Explain exactly what we will do and how major decisions align with the concepts cited above. Use 70-80 percent of the total page limit for this part of your response
  • Show how our team has used this approach successfully in past relevant projects, citing reference projects and key individuals wherever possible
  • Link the key features of our approach to the prospect’s goals and hot button issues

Worth the effort

You may be thinking: This sounds like a lot of work. Developing clear guidance does take effort by the proposal manager or other senior team member. But this early work pays off handsomely in better first drafts and—crucially—avoidance of those last-minute rewrite marathons we can all do without.

Next week: Managing early drafts



Need help writing stronger proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

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




Ghosting your competition

 August 28, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month’s posts explore taboo subjects—areas proposal teams typically avoid in responses—and suggest ways to handle them. Earlier posts covered service issues, risk and price. This post recommends ways to address your competition.

Mentioning competitors by name really is taboo. It risks provoking a negative reaction from evaluators—and legal action from those named. Instead use “ghosting,” the practice of skilfully explaining how your understanding, decisions (components, pricing, etc.), and team are superior to those of an invisible but ever-present “other.”

Ways to use ghosting 

Ghost to offset competitor strengths, exploit competitor weaknesses, reinforce your relative strengths and defend your perceived weaknesses. For example:

  • Ghost your closest competitor’s weaknesses (e.g. safety issues, weak customer support, poor delivery performance), by playing up your relative strengths in that area.
  • Ghost a competitor’s richer feature set by explaining its drawbacks (expensive, failure-prone, not required for performance, costly to repair).
  • Ghost your relative size. If your company is smaller, ghost the size argument by stressing your responsiveness, ability to provide a single point of contact and track record of successful projects. If larger, ghost with your service footprint, depth of technical resources and bench strength.
  • Ghost anticipated price differences. Ghost a competitor’s lower price by citing features of your offer that reduce total cost of ownership (longer life, low maintenance design) and costs attributable to satisfying the prospect’s list of must-have features. If you expect to have the price advantage, avoid being out-ghosted by showing your solution is as robust and fully-featured as your competitors’.

Use trade-offs to add credibility to ghosting claims

Trade-offs show you have carefully considered and dismissed alternatives, thereby demonstrating understanding and boosting credibility. Use trade-offs to reinforce your strengths on hot-button issues. See below for two examples.

  • Desire for on-time completion:  “We typically use one paving contractor on projects of this size, but have included two on our proposed team. This will require more coordination on our part, but increases deadline certainty, even in the case of unexpected delays.”
  • Need for high reliability: “We considered the AR470-B, which complies with the RFP requirements, but selected the AR580-B for its superior reliability due to the high cost of downtime for your operations.“

Effective ghosting takes competitive intel

You need to know your closest competitors’ strengths and weaknesses to ghost effectively. Most ghosting arguments also show responsiveness, but the impact is magnified when you target areas of relative superiority. If you are not investing in competitive intelligence, you risk being ghosted without defence. 

Avoid condescension and overuse when ghosting

Some evaluators may find ghosting preachy. Be sure to use restraint and ask reviewers to watch for instances that could cause offence.

Ghost sparingly. Even if well done, excessive ghosting will turn off evaluators. Plan your ghosting opportunities during the proposal strategy phase and deploy them where they’ll have the greatest impact.



Need help writing stronger bids?

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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