“Great” or “Too little, too late”? 3 Steps to a Winning Proposal

Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on June 15, 2015

This week, a longtime client requested pricing for the “proposal response that will win.” We both chuckled before inking the deal. Don’t get me wrong; we both want and expect to win! But as an experienced pursuit manager with an enviable win rate, he understands that a document alone won’t bring work home.

If you’re new to the public procurement process, it’s important to realize that once the RFQ/RFP is out, the game is half-over (at least). Long before your proposal team can develop an outstanding document that is compelling, clear, and on-message, you need to do your homework and position your firm to win with a purposeful, targeted campaign.

Here are 3 key steps to winning your next pursuit:

1. LISTEN | Arrange one-on-one high level discussions with the client’s key decision-makers to understand the project and the client, including any objections they may have to selecting your firm.

2. DIGEST | Based on said dialogue, plus research, fully develop your understanding of:

  • The client’s key challenges, including specific items such as e.g., funding, permitting and environmental regulations, stakeholder issues, phasing requirements, etc., etc.
  • The client’s key goals, both materially and in terms of public outreach or goodwill
  • Lessons the client learned on past projects – What past issues do they most fear?
  • What the client liked and didn’t like about previous project teams
  • Your main competition for this project, and how your firm compares (be honest)

3. RESPOND | Using all this intelligence, develop a compelling response that includes:

  • An unassailable team of experts whose experience collectively addresses the project’s (client’s) key challenges, issues, and goals
  • Clear messaging and proposal themes that will resonate with the client
  • Fully customized content – no boilerplate! – including call-outs, testimonials, and graphics that are directly relevant

The proposal process can be overwhelming, but remember it’s a conversation — and the client is listening carefully. Use research, strategy, and pre-proposal positioning tools (e.g., social media or website presence) to make sure that every word will count.

Posted Under: Marketing

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