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The Cornerstones of Winning Bids and Proposals, Part 1

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Kris Sæther



2 min

“The quality of a proposal is indicative of a company’s desire for my business.” These were the words of a CEO when questioned about the importance of a proposal within the sales process, and they perfectly sum up just how vital these documents are to a winning campaign.

So the question is: How often does a proposal or bid document leave your building that you can hand on heart truly say reflects just how determined you are to win the deal?

Businesses invest huge swathes of the training budget on helping sales teams to polish their performance in meetings, learn how to present well and deliver shiny and visually interesting presentations, all with the aim of driving better conversion rates.

But what about the proposal document? This is the one element of the sales process that multiple influential people will see within a business, and crucially, you are not there to guide and assist their understanding. So it better be good!

Frequently, however, proposal documents are not up to the required standard. 

In this two-part blog series, we will highlight two essential factors of winning bids and proposals.


Cornerstone #1: Make it Personal

This may sound counterintuitive coming from a proposal software provider – but you need to be cautious how you employ technology in the proposal and bid creation process.

A database-driven co-authoring and automation solution offers a fantastic opportunity to save time, drive collaboration and approval processes and also take look and feel to a new level. But the system can’t do the thinking and tailoring for you, so you have to get the usage right, based upon a well-developed strategy.

Unfortunately, many companies tend to rely on a lot of boilerplate material when putting together their proposals. This is a recipe for losing the deal. A winning bid must be customized to the client’s situation and linked with the specific scope and unique needs of the client.

If you use proposal software to simply meld boilerplate material with a paragraph or two that is relevant to that opportunity, your proposal will probably fail in two critical areas:

  • Providing custom writing that speaks directly to your client and their needs
  • Providing details that show you understand the client and know how to serve them

No matter how sleek its design and layout, a boilerplate proposal will end up being bland and impersonal. It won’t impress your client or win more business. 

Like a presentation strewn with bullet points, the fault here isn’t with the technology; it is how it has been employed. 

Use the software wisely

The key to a strong proposal is that it has to resonate with your prospect from cover to cover. It should be about them, not about you, and it should reflect the impact you will have on their business, not what your product or service is all about.

If you want to improve conversion rates with proposals that are a genuine cut above your competition, then you should look to co-authoring and automation software to help drive collaboration and save your team time. However, don’t forget to train them to take everything they’ve learned during the sales process and craft it into an engaging document.

The quality of the writing and the effort you have invested into the document will set you apart; the software is simply a tool that will give you back the time to make it personal, if you use it wisely.

Stay tuned for the second installment of this two-part article series, where we look at another cornerstone of winning bids and proposals: Collaboration.

Author picture

Kris Sæther

Kris Sæther is Chief Commercial Officer of Xait. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Media Studies, and has worked in financial communication in London and Frankfurt prior to joining Xait. He has 20+ years experience from the information management industry. Kris is an avid runner and skier, and a passionate fan of the world’s coolest soccer team, Tottenham. If he is not working or running you will find him cheering for his two daughters on the handball court.

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