Besides storyboarding, tailoring projects and resumes, finding silver bullets and benefits, there are eight simple things you can do to dramatically improve your proposal writing. Using the below list will transform your writing into a compelling and persuasive proposal and significantly improve your chances of winning.
1. Address the Evaluation Factors
Ask yourself the question: has your proposal been written to get the highest score based on the evaluation criteria? To do so you need to do the following
- Study the evaluation criteria and make sure that what you have written will get the highest score. One-way to do this is to copy and paste from what you wrote onto the client’s evaluation forms to assess and justify the score
- Anything you have written, no matter how important to you, will not help you win if it is not addressed in the evaluation criteria.
3. Use the Client’s Terms
The evaluator will compare your proposal against RFP to see whether you have addressed the RFP requirements or not. When they do that, they’ll be skimming for the keywords. You should make them easy to find by using Bold or italics or color, etc. You need to do the following
- Use the RFP’s terminology instead of your own. In fact, you should use all the keywords from the RFP.
- Use the client’s terms no matter how strongly you prefer to use certain terms or how much better they are.
- Avoid overuse of acronyms, especially ones the client may not know.
- Use key words as the First word in a bullet list
4. Explain What You Will Do
An easy way to ensure that you answer the client’s questions is to address the following questions
Does the technical approach answer all the questions the client might have? and answer clearly what you will do? Look at what you have written and ask yourself questions that start with the above words. See if you can’t add more details to your response by having provided answers to all of them.
7. Demonstrate Incentives
The client is making a purchase and has multiple offerings to choose from. Does your proposal give them reasons to want what you are offering more than what anyone else might be offering? This means you need to understand what they really want, which may or may not actually be found in the RFP. Your proposal must provide compelling reasons for the evaluator to select you.
2. Comply with the RFP
If you are not compliant with every requirement, your proposal may not even get evaluated. When there are lots of proposals submitted, the easiest way to get out of reading them all is to disqualify as many as possible for non-compliance. Ask yourself the following
- How quickly can the evaluator find what they need to prove RFP compliance?
- Is it “skimmable”? i.e. Is it easy for someone who is just skimming through the document to pick out what’s important?
- Are you using graphics, illustrations, images and captions.
If the instructions are confusing or complex, or you have a great deal of materials crowded into just 50 pages, consider providing an index that shows and references the pages numbers where the evaluator can be referred to check compliance with the evaluation criteria.
5. Does Every Paragraph Pass the “So What?” Test?
Have you written descriptive statements, cited qualifications, or made unsubstantiated claims in any sentence without explaining what matters and why? The evaluator is often more interested in why it matters than the statement. Never assume that the value of a statement is obvious. Does every paragraph pass the “So what” test? It is not enough to state your qualifications, you need to explain what matters about them and how the client will benefit.
6. Provide Added Value
Exceeding the specifications of the RFP does not have to mean increasing your price. If it’s a choice between two firms with the same offering and one offers a better written response or does a better job of answering the client’s questions, who do you think has the competitive advantage? Remember that everyone is responding to the same RFP. Any competition will also be compliant. If you are merely compliant with the requirements (as it is) then at best, you are competing solely on price and at worst vulnerable to someone else offering something better.
8. Keep the Focus on the Client
If every sentence starts with your company’s name, there’s a good chance that you have written about yourself and not about the client. Look at every paragraph and make sure that every feature, attribute, or piece of information you provide is put into the client’s context.
For instance, when you talk with a salesperson, do you want to hear them talk about themselves? or do you want to hear them talk about what the offering will do for you and how you will benefit from it?
- Focus on delivery, not just qualifications or process.
- The winning proposal is the one written from the client's perspective and not simply a description of yourself.
- Determining the appropriate level of effort, careful planning, clear communication, adherence to schedule, and using time- and money saving strategies improve your proposal.
- By developing client-focused message in a compelling manner, it enhances proposal quality and Improve chances for being selected.
- By spending time on storyboarding, outlining, and developing content, you will produce clearer, responsive proposals that help you win new work.
- When the proposal is written by several writers who are responsible for different sections and they have skipped the storyboarding process, then chances are -- they won’t incorporate the win theme. So when the proposal manager puts all of the sections together for the first time (at blue team review) it's no wonder that the feedback is all too predictable – "solutions not clearly articulated“ and / or "compelling themes and discriminators are either hidden or missing”