Saturday, February 14, 2009

Anatomy of a proposal...presenting your solution

Part of the Learn to Write Proposals online proposal guide.

In the business proposal Executive Summary guidance we suggest the following flow:
  • What’s the requirement?
  • What’s the ideal solution?
  • How does your solution solve the buyer’s problems?
Then in our article on understanding the requirement we have covered in more detail the first two to help you know how to write a proposal – the requirement and the ideal solution. This is the real "sales document" part of your proposal where you set out how you will meet the requirement and solve client problems.

The way you structure this section and write your tender or bid (and it's sub-sections) depends on the kind of product or service you are providing and also the way that the RFP requires you to respond. However, whatever the specific content, the key to writing winning proposals is to ensure your solution focuses on how you solve the client’s business need.

The aim is to present a solution so compelling that the client believes that you are uniquely capable of delivering the contract. It’s not enough to say ‘we can do it’ - this is the time to say ‘we can do it’; ‘this is how’; and ‘this is what makes our solution different, and better, than the competition. This is the time to present and expand on your win themes developed in your Bid Capture Plan.

This is what we said about win themes in the Bid Capture Plan:

In your win themes always:
  • Pick your competitive advantages that are important to the client
  • Emphasise the value to the client
  • Back them up with evidence
  • Use them in your business proposal
Use win themes to present your differentiators within the context of your solution and back them up with evidence.

Table of compliance

In a lot of cases a table of compliance can be included. This useful when there are detailed and specific requirements listed in the RFP and it provides a visual reference to the buyer that they can refer to.

It is important that if you submit a table of compliance that you are compliant! You can be sure that your competitors will be. There are two reasons not to be compliant and submitting:
  • You have a superior alternative that doesn’t impact on the remainder of the requirement
  • The requirement is not mandatory and the rest of your solution demonstrates your superiority
However remember that non-compliance can often lead to an early exit from the procurement process.

If you are thinking of submitting a non-compliant bid, then first talk with the client and ask them if they will be happy to accept it.

Next...more on presenting your solution - telling a story in your business proposal.