When it comes to proposal management, there are a lot of moving pieces to manage, and organization shouldn’t be the thing that keeps your proposal from winning the bid.
The internet, personal computer, and email have revolutionized the way we work proposals. We no longer have to wait to share information; we can communicate it in just a matter of seconds. We no longer have to wait to access information, which makes team communication a lot less time-consuming and frustrating. Some things, however, remain the same.
Take for example, the efficacy of “process.” According to APMP's 2019 Industry U.S. Benchmark Survey Report Executive Summary, 70% of the organizations that APMP members serve have established “best practices.” Only 23%, however, say those are working well, and 59% say these processes are only working somewhat well.
Want to do better? Then get your proposal process off on the right foot, while keeping your team communication and collaboration going strong.
Over the next nine blog posts, we’ll share best practices for an effective proposal management process.
Establish Win Themes, Discriminators, and Supporting Details
Win themes are messages that promote the value of your solution. Discriminators are part of your win themes and help distinguish you from the competition.
Done right, your win themes and discriminators can turn a merely compliant proposal into a compelling one, keep evaluators reading, not just skimming, and make it clear why you can provide the best solution to the problem.
Proposal writing is really about telling a story. And your story is about how your solution to the problem is better than your competitors – in specific ways that really matter to your customers. Win themes are the messages you are trying to send, the moral of your story. Discriminators differentiate your message.
Effective proposals usually have one or three win themes that are focused on what the customer cares about the most – cost, risk, performance, innovation, etc. The key is developing an increasing level of detail that supports each theme as you write, read (and skim) through the proposal. For example, if your theme is performance:
- How does your solution performance benefit the customer?
- What do the performance outcomes (benefits) look like for the customer?
- How does your solution performance stand out from the competition?
- What proof points (statistics, quotes, etc.) support how your performance is different?
- Where have you succeeded in the past, and what are the quantifiable results of that effort?
All too often, when the written story is unclear, the feedback will be predictable – "needs more detail". Establishing win themes, discriminators, and supporting details before the team begins writing your story will lend purpose and focus – and help the story hang together and build for the reader chapter by chapter when it comes time for review.
Next in our series on proposal management best practices: Set up your compliance matrix to start building a comprehensive proposal content plan that will drive roles, tasks, and responsibilities.