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How to Overcome the 10 Fears That Lose Proposals

In our last article we wrote about 10 ways that fear causes people to lose proposals. So in this article, we thought we’d provide antidotes for each of those fears. Here are 10 ways to eliminate the fear so you can dominate the competition.
  1. Fear of saying something the customer won’t like. You should write your proposals from the customer’s perspective and make them about results. A proposal is not about what you want to say. It’s about what your customer wants to get. If you write about what they are going to get, then the issue becomes whether you are offering what they want and not what you are saying.

  2. Fear of sounding different. If you don’t sound different, you can’t sound better than your competition. Don’t be neutral, bland, proper, or formal. Be enthusiastic, passionate, and genuine. Don’t follow an example — instead be a leader. Write in a style that you’re comfortable with. If you can, be conversational — write the way you speak. Then say something that matters.

  3. Fear of looking different. If format matters, then the customer will say so in the RFP instructions. If they don’t, then make it legible. Don’t reach beyond your skill level to make it fancy. Keep it simple and focus on having an outstanding offering.

  4. Fear of being different. You only have two options if you want to win. Either offer the same thing in a way that is clearly better, or offer something different that is clearly better. Either way, you have to be different. Embrace it. Make sure the customer knows how you are different and why you are better.

  5. Fear of your boss. Slip this article under your boss's door. It probably won’t do any good — it’s hard to change someone’s personality or the culture of a company from a single article. But if they're just a little open minded, you never know... .

  6. Fear of losing your job. Focus on having an outstanding offering, instead of a safe one.  An outstanding offer will require some risk.  But the risk can be less than the risk of standing still or "playing it safe."

  7. Fear of change. If you don’t introduce change, your competitors will introduce it for you. Beat them to it. If change is called for and you have your customer’s trust, they’ll turn to you to implement it.

  8. Fear of getting stuck. The best way to avoid getting stuck is to be prepared, with options. You want the kind of process that can do that for you instead of the kind of process that forces you into a sequence with no escape. If the process makes things easier and brings more options to people, they will embrace it.

  9. Fear of losing control. A control-freak is not a team player. If you’re stuck with one on your team, the only chance you have is to appeal to a higher authority to provide counseling. If the control-freak is the higher authority, you’re doomed. Unless you can be the counselor.

  10. Fear of being caught unprepared. Don’t focus on how the process makes people accountable. Focus on how it helps them know how to prepare, saves them time, gives them options, and help everyone coordinate. You don’t have to worry about being caught unprepared, if you actually are prepared. Focus on how the process takes away the fear.

This article is part of a discussion we're having over on LinkedIn. Join us on LinkedIn to discuss it.




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By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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