RESEARCH & PROPOSAL WRITING

Winning in Writing will teach you our methods for figuring out what should go in your proposal and how to plan the content. We’re adding to it how to radically improve your proposals by writing them from the customer’s perspective and how to validate the quality of what you have written.

Everyone acknowledges the importance of having proposal reviews if you want to win. What most people don’t realize is that reviews are not the most important thing you can do if you want to improve your proposal quality and your probability of winning. How well you plan the content before you start writing has more to do with whether you win than having proposal reviews. it comes down to a choice between knowing what you are doing, or checking it after the fact. Reviews are about catching mistakes after they have been made. Planning the content of your proposal before you write it is about preventing mistakes in the first place. Relying on reviews means trying to fix the proposal by writing and re-writing. If you review without defining what the proposal is supposed to be in sufficient detail for the writers to act on it, you are doomed to running out the clock without ever being satisfied you have the winning proposal. You can’t have an effective review if you have’t thought through what should go in your proposal.

When you plan the content of your proposal, you make all the critical decisions like:

How should the proposal be organized?
What are your win strategies?
What should you emphasize?
What trade-offs do you face and how should they be handled?
What do you need to do to have the highest evaluation score?
If you’re going to review anything, that’s what you want to review. Reviewing the wording is secondary.

So why is it that there are far more companies that jump straight into writing and have a review, than companies that carefully plan the content but skip the reviews? Obviously doing both is better, but isn’t it curious how lopsided it is? Maybe it’s because it’s easier to get away with a bad review methodology than it is to get away with a bad content planning methodology. It is also much harder to achieve a good, reliable content planning methodology – especially one that can be implemented by other people.

The best way to win proposals is to put the emphasis on content planning, and then review the content plan. The review that happens later, after the draft is written, is mainly to make sure that the writers stuck to the plan. Reviewing the content plan is more important than reviewing the draft. You review the content plan to make sure the proposal will win. You review the draft to fix typographical errors and mistakes.