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12 Tenets That Drive How You Win Proposals

We have a way of doing things, when it comes to pursuing and winning a proposal. Most people do. But how do you describe it? What drives it? What makes it special? What are its limitations? It can't be everything to everybody.

When people work on a process, they tend to think in terms of steps, phases, or components. When we created our MustWin Process, instead of starting with the workflow, we started with the ideas that would end up shaping it.

Here are the 12 tenets that drive the MustWin Process.  Do you share our vision?

  1. Proposals should be built around what it takes to win. The job of the process is to discover what that is and then deliver it. In writing.
  2. The process should deliver the information people need, when they need it, in the format they need it in. It should minimize orphans (process deliverables that are not part of the final submission).
  3. Storyboards don’t work. We no longer consider them a best practice and have replaced them with Content Planning, which does work.
  4. People must perceive that planning the content of your proposal and then writing it will take less effort than writing it without planning before they will accept the process.
  5. Being able to opt-out is important to achieving process acceptance. But it’s an all-or-nothing decision.
  6. The pre-RFP release portion of the process should tell you what to do to prepare to write the winning proposal, and enable you to measure your progress toward achieving it.
  7. Having an information advantage at RFP release is important to winning. Your ability to achieve an information advantage is how to measure the strength of your customer relationship.
  8. Templates do more harm than good for most types of proposals. This is because similar is not the same, and context matters. If winning is important, your proposal must be fully customized around what it will it take to win.
  9. Proposals should be written from the customer’s point of view and should not be primarily self-descriptive. In other words, your proposal should not be about you. Proposals should be about the customer, the results they can expect, and how they will be benefit from what you propose.
  10. Proposal planning should make writing finite, enable progress to be measured, and provide the criteria needed to validate proposal quality.
  11. Writers should know the review criteria before they start writing.
  12. It’s time to replace the red team whole color team model. Proposal quality must be objectively defined and measurable. Proposals should be validated against criteria that are in turn based upon what it will take to win. How you do the reviews or even how many reviews you have is much less important than what you review.


The MustWin Process implements these tenets to win proposals...

The PropLIBRARY Knowledgebase comes with our MustWin off-the-shelf process documentation that
provides step-by-step guidance to help you:

  • Get ready for RFP release
  • Develop win strategies
  • Produce a winning proposal
  • Achieve quality assurance
  • Comes with online training!

Click here to learn more about it

By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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