Nothing is as important to winning a proposal as having an information advantage.
How can you tell if the customer likes you enough to help you win? If the relationship produces an information advantage then you know it helps you win. Having trouble writing a proposal that best portrays your strengths? You have a self-awareness information problem. The cure is turning what you know about yourself into an information advantage. Having trouble figuring out what to say or do about the competitive environment? Either you don't know enough about them or you're not properly applying what you do know. Again, the cure is finding an information advantage.
In many ways, writing a proposal is simply about managing information. It starts with gathering the right information and then converting it into words on paper. Your ability to find the magic words that articulate why your offering is better than the competitions' and why the customer should select you depends on your skills at gathering and converting information.
On your next proposal, instead of thinking about gathering intelligence, obtaining a competitive advantage, or writing a winning proposal, try thinking about where you have an information advantage. Try to create an information advantage related to what you know about the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment, and your own self-awareness. Then translate your information advantage into winning strategies and themes for your proposal.
An information advantage can take several forms:
The way you find and create an information advantage is by treating it as a data flow. You need a process that tells you where to look, what information to seek, what to do with it when you get it, how to assess it, where to put it, and how to format it.
- Knowing more than your competitors about something.
- Making better use of something that everyone already knows about.
- Knowing what is important about all of the information that is available.
But perhaps more important than the process is how you manage its execution. An information advantage is a standard you can measure things by. It can be used as criteria to assess your progress. If you ask the right questions, it becomes measurable. Sometimes winning a proposal is less about what to do and more about how you do it.
When you develop your proposal, you are looking to present things that give you a competitive advantage, make your offer better, and show the customer why they should select you. Many people struggle to identify win strategies and themes, often because they don't know how to focus their thoughts.
- When you gather information, you should measure your success by whether it gives you an information advantage.
- When you assess the information you gathered, you should assess it for things that can be used to produce an information advantage.
- When you format and store information it should focus on the information advantage.
- When you write the proposal, you write about your information advantage.
A good way to identify win strategies and themes is to focus on where you have an information advantage. Turn your information advantage about your customer, opportunity, competitive environment, or self-awareness into a positioning statement about your company or offering. Then use the positioning to develop your win strategies and proposal themes.
With this approach, your ability to win depends on your ability to develop an information advantage. This can bring focus to your efforts and help you know what to say in order to win your proposals.