Do you ever look at the proposal you are going to submit and wonder what happened to the energy and ideas that originally fuelled your solution?
At the beginning of the proposal period, the team has so much good input, expertise and enthusiasm, but the final proposal somehow doesn’t convey those things to the reader. What happened?
After more than fifteen years working with teams who have previously experienced this disappointment, I can share with you five ways to put positive punch back into your proposals.
1. Remind yourself what good looks like
The pressure of preparing multiple proposals sometimes means that we accept that “near enough is good enough” and submit a proposal that we know doesn’t show off our best capabilities. Every customer, though, expects you to work especially hard on their opportunity, and they know what they like. So do you. Reading a document from their point-of-view restores your own perspective and reminds you to shape your response so they want to work with you.
2. Remember what they told you
By the time you write the proposal the customer has given you a lot of information. Your BD team has had meetings with them, they’ve sent you a solicitation and maybe presented a briefing on the opportunity. Effectively (though probably selectively) they have told you want they want to hear from you. Aligning your messaging with theirs ensures that they feel listened to.
3. Show and tell
People have different preferences for how information is presented to them. And for most people, it isn’t in the form of pages of unbroken prose. Introducing graphic content and design elements into your proposals not only makes it easier for them to read to the end, it gives you different opportunities to add colour and impact to what you have to say.
4. Make compliance visible
Compliance sometimes seems like the drudgery in proposal writing. Do I really have to check if we comply with every single clause in the RFX? The answer is yes, if that’s how you are competing. But you can’t expect the evaluator to do all the hard work. Making your compliance evident keeps your proposal succinct and ensures that evaluators know when you comply. It’s your ticket to the short list.
5. Cut to the chase
When you look at your finished proposal and it contains the 700 pages of addenda and technical detail that you provide to all your clients, you may feel your heart sink. It really doesn’t have to be that way. Staying focused on providing clear answers to the questions they have asked means you don’t need to edit a lot of material that answers questions they haven’t asked.
6. Avoid the death of a thousand cuts
Have you had that experience where you start out by drafting positive statements and clear ideas and every draft makes it a little bit vaguer and a little less exciting? Establishing clear review guidelines will keep feedback on track to sharpen the messages in your proposal instead of watering them down.
With these very actionable strategies, explored and developed in our POWeRful Proposal Writing workshop, you can do your business justice by conveying in your proposals why the customer should choose you, in a structure and language that the customer wants to read.