Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Know the client...early on

It's often said that a race is not won at the beginning but it can be lost. Is it the same with proposal writing? Maybe you cannot win your proposal at an early stage, but you can certainly put yourself in a position not to win it.

This really comes down to re-thinking your proposal development strategy, in that it ceases to be about just writing a winning proposal but encompasses everything you know about customer relationships. Having a good customer relationship won't necessarily help you win new business, but having a poor customer relationship puts you at a severe disadvantage.

It's important to get to know the client and what drives there business. There have been many great books recently on the idea of consultancy selling - not just doing a product pitch to show off features and benefits - but in you providing a service through your sales. This requires you to understand the clients business, knowing how to solve their problems and being able to express how your solution will avoid the negative ramifications of both inaction and choosing an alternative and inferior solution. 

You need to understand the client well enough to be able to put forward a solution, a clear position on the benefits and advantages of your solution and a return on investment model.

Now we approach the end of the race - where you can not just lose, but you can win. Knowledge is not enough and client relationships are not enough (most of the time). This is where your proposal development skills need to come to the fore.

The proposal must reflect your knowledge and your client relationships and your solution. It is here that you in-depth, long-time cultivated understanding of the clients business can be exploited. You proposal is there to persuade the client that they must change the direction they are going in by moving in your direction - that is where the race is won.

If you truly have taken the time and effort to know and understand the client's needs and you truly believe in the product and/or service that you offer it should be easy to be passionate and persuasive. You have all the tools - use them because in this race there are very few prizes for second place.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Late night last night?

So it was Thursday last night, the day before many proposals have to be submitted at the end of the week.

How many proposal writers were on their third slice of cold pizza and second cup of warm coke still trying to get their proposal finished before getting up early this morning to get to the office print it out before the last minute courier delivery on Friday afternoon?

Sound familiar? Most proposal writers at some point in time have had close calls - the ones which were got in just in time. Many proposal writers may even have a story of running to hand deliver a proposal in order to meet the submission deadline.

There are a lot of proposals put together this way, that miss out on important review and quality checks. And if you have ever put a proposal together tis way how successful was it?

Then think about the pother way, the proposal that was planned and executed early. It gets reviewed properly - the financials are checked (you better hope late night guy didn't mess that part up) and then it gets edited. It's printed and bound to look professional and is sent early to ensure that it gets there on time.

You may have won work preparing proposals both ways. But I bet you won more being better prepared and by re-reading, improving and re-writing.

It's a far more enjoyable way to work too.

Learn more about how you can get your Thursday evenings back with the Learn to Write Proposals bid management and quality review tools.