This is a continuation of the previous podcasts on developing a strategy. In this podcast, I’m focusing on Messages and Questions you should ask yourself.


Your proposal response strategy should include key messages that gain support from reviewers, points in the evaluation, and win the proposal.

These messages are not the same as themes, although themes should also be delivering a message. While the theme is something you can reuse throughout the entire proposal response, a message is often a specific, important item that addresses the requirements. Messages are dealt with in specific sections or as answers to specific questions. Messages present or position your company’s offerings. They are also different from hot buttons, which are typically high profile items that have a big impact on the client.

Messages may include things the client doesn’t even realize are important, but most often they’re geared to the evaluation scoring and your competitive advantages.

These messages may include the following:

  1. The level of skills and experience of your staff.
  2. How you bring improvement to clients.
  3. The benefits of your product or service.
  4. How a transition to your company will be seamless.
  5. Your advantages over the competition.
  6. Your knowledge and understanding of the client’s requirements.
  7. Your success in achieving the performance requirements or service levels the client is expecting.

These are only examples, of course. You develop your messages during the planning and strategy session based on the client’s needs and your solution. During this process, you identify things that matter to the client. Develop these into a consistent yet concise message that is crafted to get the attention of the evaluators and get the most evaluation points.

Key attributes of your message should be:

  • Impact
  • Relevance
  • Support for your proposal

Each of your messages has to be supported with facts and information and cannot just be presented as typical marketing and sales language. Some of the techniques are discussed in in previous podcasts.

Asking Yourself Questions

Part of a successful strategy, in addition to the items already discussed, is asking yourself questions about the client and the proposal.

Yes, asking yourself questions is a common theme in some of my podcasts and here is another application. Why is this important? Because it ensures you have the answers you need and don’t simply assume. Asking questions is always an easy way to gather information, since the questions force you to examine issues and information.

The answers will guide you in your strategy and, most importantly, in determining what details and information to include in the proposal response.

Don’t just ask one set of questions, however. After the first answer, ask more questions until you have good, quality information you can use in the proposal. At the least, you will know what answers you still don’t have and need to investigate.

Some of the questions you should ask include the following:

  1. Why are they issuing an RFP now?
  2. Who will be reviewing?
  3. What is the selection process?
  4. What do they need?
  5. Who is doing the work now?
  6. Do they want change?
  7. How are they organized?
  8. Who will manage the contract?
  9. Who are their clients/customers?
  10. What is their core business?

Depending on the proposal and your situation, there may be additional questions you should be asking.

Once you’ve answered this first set of questions, ask more questions about the answer. For instance, after answering “Who will be reviewing?” you should ask “What are their interests?” Once you answer that, you should ask yourself “How can I incorporate that into the response?”

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