In this episode, I’m switching from a focus on the client to focusing on you, with critical questions you need to ask yourself while you write your proposal.

Very often, proposal writers are often so focused on the mechanics of responding to the proposal, assembling all the information, getting agreements and ensuring they’re compliant with the RFP, that they fail to ask the following key questions:Question # 1 : Does my proposal solve the client’s problem?

Clients ask for proposals because they have a problem that needs to be solved. The problems may not be apparent, but at the root of every proposal there’s a problem that needs to be solved. You must think about the proposal in terms of the problem, and respond to it as a solution.

You need to know what the problem is, yet the client may not position the RFP as a problem, or even see it in those terms. The proposal response is your opportunity to demonstrate how you can solve the client’s problem anyway.

So always frame the RFP in terms of a problem and develop your response so that it describes the problem and provides your solution. If you’re certain about the problem being solved, you can state it up-front in the introduction. If you’re not certain about what the client sees as the problem, or it may be a sensitive issue, leave it silent and deal with the issue discretely within your proposal response.

Question # 2: Have I differentiated myself from my competitors?

RFPs are essentially a contest between you and your competition. Even if the process generally assesses each proposal separately on its own merits against a defined set of criteria, the comparisons between the separate proposals will always play a part in the evaluation – after all, evaluators are human.

While it’s important to focus on the evaluation criteria and demonstrate that you meet or exceed it, you should write the proposal to encourage a favorable comparison with your competition. There are subtle ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. Your analysis about the client will identify issues that need to be addressed, and how to differentiate yourself by addressing those items.

When trying to differentiate yourself from your competition, don’t make it obvious. Say just enough to enable the client to figure it out, by using language that makes the client think about the differences, and connect the dots between your benefits and strengths relative to your competition. To do this, you can use the Ghosting technique I discussed in Podcast # 26.

Question # 3: If I were the client, why would I select my proposal over other proposals?

While you’re working on your proposal, constantly ask ‘why us?’ If you continually ask this question, you’ll start to see the material you’ve written or the material contributed by others in a completely new light.

Thinking about that question will help you eliminate fluff and generalities and help you focus on details and solid information that the client wants to see.

If you can’t easily answer this question for each section or each RFP question you answer, rethink your strategy and what you’ve written.

The only way to win is to give the client reasons to choose you. If you haven’t built a compelling case, your competition probably has.

Our Book "Win More Business - Write Better Proposals". is now available at Amazon in many countries, including the USA , Canada, UK, Japan, Germany and France. You can also order it directly from the author on this website