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  3. One of the changes for MustWin v2 will be the addition of a management model. I think that's important, because it addresses key things required for a process to be successful, but are out of scope for the process itself. The MustWin Process Architecture won't tell people how to manage, but will tell them what management needs to address in order for the process to be successful. Here is an early draft of the model: Click through to the article above to see how it translates into a tool for proposal implementation. Do you see anything missing from this model?
  4. This is the first post under the topic. You can get notified when people respond and interact with your audience. You should be able to choose whether others can start new topics or not, although I'm not sure how to do that.
  5. The best practices for proposals say you should make your proposal as short as you can while still answering all of the customer’s questions.The best practices are wrong. If you follow them, and your competitors follow them as well, your proposal will be ordinary. Instead, you should turn the length of your proposal into a competitive advantage. Here's how: Be much, much, shorter. If your competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make your proposal only five pages. Just sum up all the issues. Focus on what really matters. Use short, choppy sentences instead of run-on passive voice elaborations that don’t really add anything. Make it bold. Stand out from the pack. Longer proposals do not mean they were written by people who know more. It means they are disorganized. Say that. Don’t just offer the customer a choice — demonstrate the difference between you and your competitors. Give the customer a chance to choose a contractor that isn’t the same old, same old kind of provider, making it up as they go along and just muddling through. If you're afraid of making unsubstantiated claims, then put the long version with all the substantiate on the web. Let your executive summary be your proposal. You can make the proof with all the details available to them if they want to test you. By being radically short, you become the unit that everyone is measured against. So make darn sure you have a great offering. Make darn sure you truly understand what they want (as opposed to what they’ve asked for). If they want to select you, then they will look at the other, longer, and far more boring proposals with dread. Your competitors will seem unenlightened, uninspired, and out of touch. But if you offer something ordinary, they might seem like they did more of their homework. It is harder to write a short proposal than it is to write a long proposal. If you want to win. Be much, much longer. If you’re competitors are going to submit 50-page proposals, then make yours 500. Give them all the details. Prove that you've thought about every possible contingency. Prove that you're ready now and not just making it up as you go along. Just put it in appendices so they don’t have to actually read it. Instead of referring to procedures, show them the procedures. All of them. Don’t just promise. Show. Demonstrate. Ghost against the uncertainties of dealing with other contractors. Instead of offering to become what they need, you should already be it. Tell them straight up that you included all the backup, just to prove you are that ready and that your credibility surpasses that of your competitors. Tell them that if they select you they already know what they're going to get. If they select your competitors, all they get are promises. Make sure you include an executive summary that sums it all up in just a couple of pages. Tell them that they don’t have to read any further, unless they need to see proof. Make sure that the material is very, very well organized. Make it easy to skim. Make it visual. Make it easy to find things, like answers to questions. Give them a link to an online, searchable, clickable, expandable, collapsible version of your proposal. Better yet, turn it into a project portal that can be used as a tool for performance after award. Only give it to them before award so they can kick the tires. Be better prepared. Some RFPs specify a page limit. When they do, you can expect nearly all of your competitors to turn in proposals that are within a few pages of the limit. You can easily stand out by turning in a proposal way below the limit. After all, what message is the customer sending by having a page limit? When you have to provide information and that information is going to add significantly to the page count, remember to format the document to separate what you want them to read from the reference material. Put all the dry, data heavy, information intensive pages in an appendix or separate section of your proposal. When they open your proposal, you want them to read your story and see why they should select you. If they need substantiation, questions answered, demonstrations, detailed procedures, etc., then tell them where they can find them. But don’t let them disrupt your story. If you want to be competitive, there is no such thing as having “just the right” length to your proposal. You can either be way too short, or way too long. Either way, you can turn it into a competitive advantage. Avoid being comparable to your competition. Stand out. Be extraordinary. Get selected. Win.
  6. Sometimes the customer tells you exactly what to bid. Other times, they tell you what the problem or need is and ask you to propose a solution. When they tell you what to bid, everybody is bidding the same thing. To establish a better value you must either: Offer more than what they asked for. If you focus on the deliverables, this can be challenging, because delivering more usually means incurring higher costs. And when everyone is bidding the same thing, cost gets a lot more attention. The trick is to identify things that you would either do anyway, or can do without adding cost. Provide a better way for them to get what they asked for. Better delivery terms, quality assurance, risk mitigation, faster delivery, training, and better maintenance are all examples of ways to add value. It’s not about you. If the customer can get what they want from anyone, then who cares about the company providing it? It doesn’t matter unless you make it matter, but it’s got to matter to them. Be more credible and trustworthy. You want the customer to believe they have a better chance of actually getting what they want from you. People buy from businesses they trust. A performance history, references, demonstrations, samples, insurance, back-up and risk mitigation plans, transparency, real-time reporting, availability, guarantees, and clear, un-evasive speech/writing are all things that can reinforce trust. Better proposal writing. When everybody is bidding the same thing, the way you describe and position yourself matters a whole lot more. Once you’ve established credibility and trust, it’s important to tell the right story. If they can get what they are asking for from anyone, why would they want to get it from you? If everybody is offering the same thing, then outside of the price all they have to impact their decision is your proposal. So what kind of story does it tell? But what about when the customer is leaving it up to you to figure out what to propose, they just want their needs met or their problem solved? Then they don’t have the same points of comparison. So it all becomes about whether they want what you are offering. Teach them what matters. They have to figure out how to compare apples and oranges. Instead of leaving it to them to figure out, you can help them by pointing out what matters. And if in your proposal they see the company with the best understanding of what matters, that’s a definite plus. The customer will first compare you against what they want. Before they consider how your proposal compares to the competition, and before they consider how well your proposal is presented, they ask whether what you are offering will meet their needs. If you are proposing a solution, the company with the best understanding of what the customer wants has a significant advantage. It is critical to resolve issues and tradeoffs like long-term vs. short-term, quality/speed/price, centralized vs. decentralized, etc., the same way the customer would. So how well do you know their preferences? Risk mitigation rules. They are placing a lot of trust in you when they don’t specify what to bid. How do they know that what you are proposing will work, meet their needs, and get delivered on time and on budget? Trust is a lot more important as well. But they really need to know that you’ve thought it through, have anticipated the challenges, and are going to be able to overcome them. What are they actually going to get? They’ve asked you to figure it out. Now they have to pick between proposals that are all different. So they want to look past the intangibles and focus on what they are actually going to get so they have something to compare. When they look at your proposal, how long does it take them to figure out what they are going to get? It’s all about the results. They’ve asked for a solution, so where does yours get them? This is where your ability to tell your story really matters. If they pick you, where will they end up? What will that future look like? Will it get them excited? The company that understands them will tell the right story. The company that says they understand but doesn’t paint the right picture for the future really doesn’t understand them at all. The two lists above are very different. There are common elements in both, but with very different points of emphasis. More importantly, they two lists imply different strategies that result in different proposals. So what is your customer trying to achieve, and how does that impact your strategies? And what do you need to do to help them along with their selection?
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