Seven Deadly Sins...
From Mike McLaughlin at the Guerilla Consulting blog, a great post on “The Seven Deadly Sins of Proposal Writing”. It amazes me how many firms in so many different sectors of the economy don’t know how to write a good proposal or bid response or grant application. One big mistake is thinking the proposal does your selling – that’s not its purpose. The purpose of the proposal is to confirm and document what you’re selling, not present the ideas to the client for the first time.
Besides this mistake, there are a number of other faux pas that otherwise smart and savvy firms – of all sizes – for some unknown reason beat a well worn path to. Here are Mike McLaughlin’s Seven Sins…
1. Lack of focus on the client's business problem and industry dynamics.
2. The "we, us, and our" syndrome. Does your proposal talk more about your firm than about the client's business?
3. No basis of differentiation. Focus is on weak differentiators such as quality service, price, responsiveness, and your firm's pedigree.
4. The expected value of the project isn't quantified so you can't use it as a baseline for justifying the proposed fee.
5. The proposal is laced with jargon, difficult to read, and doesn't include an issue-focused executive summary.
6. Reliance on a boilerplate resume.
7. Errors: misspellings, poor grammar, wrong client name, or inconsistent formats.
I’m in a deal at the moment with a well-known competitor who made at least four of these seven mistakes. Not that we were perfect – we weren’t, and perhaps never are - but we definately fared better on points 1, 3, 5 and 7. It was almost like the competitor didn’t want the business (maybe they didn’t), but if I were rating the firms and approaches, the proposals would have set the pace right away. Whether the competitor could have done the job or not – they likely could have, in my mind – they did not position themselves for success and once that train starts rolling... Good for us – not so good for them…