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The subtle art of educating the evaluator and ghosting the competition

The first thing a proposal evaluator does is figure out how to evaluate your proposal. They may have forms, criteria, policies, and occasionally even training to guide them, but at its heart, what they have to do is figure out how to score everybody. They have to figure out how to apply the evaluation criteria, using the forms and policies of the evaluation process to your bid.

You can help in your proposal, by telling them what is important, what will cause problems, where the sources of risk are, how you’ve mitigated those risks, and what will result from a contractor who hasn’t. Essentially, what you have to do is educate the evaluator.

Be subtle, and never patronize. Don’t tell them how to do their job, but do show that you understand the issues. Keep in mind that some evaluators will be technical, some not. Some will be managers, some will not. Some will have familiarity with the program, some may not.

If there is a feature in your proposal that is important, make it the first thing they see, and tell them why it is important. Avoid patronizing by making it a statement of your understanding. “We do … because we understand the importance of … This ensures that any risk of … is mitigated. We have made this a key feature of our proposal because we understand that any approach that does not include … represents a source of unmitigated risk.” Etc., etc.

Make sure that along the way you build the case that you are the only one in existence who could possibly do the job and if they select anyone else they will experience nothing but problems and be exposed to endless risk. You can achieve this by a process of elimination. Target each competitor and every alternative approach. At every turn, show the benefits of your approach and the problems inherent in any other. Do this in the context of educating someone who may not realize they need educating. They know you’re a biased source so don’t be afraid to state your case --- just make sure you support it.

Done properly, what you will do is make their jobs easier by showing them how to apply the evaluation criteria to your proposal. After reading your proposal, it should be clear how the evaluation criteria should be applied and where you should get points. Lots of points. Make this more clear then the competition and you win. It’s that simple. Unless your price is unrealistic ;-)

By Carl Dickson, Founder of

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