Writing proposals is something that many people don’t really care to do. It can be tedious because you have to ensure that the intended party can follow what you are saying while selling yourself at the same time. Also, that you address all the points that they mentioned in their Statement of Work.
One of the mistakes that I see many companies (especially the big ones) make is thinking that by boasting about themselves, the organization that they are trying to win the bid from is going to think
“Wow, they are so amazing. We HAVE to give them the task order.”
Sorry companies, it doesn’t usually work out that way. There is a section called “Past Performance” where you can talk about yourself and why you are the best individual (or company) for the job. It makes me cringe when I see the company talk about they handled this and that in the Management and Solution areas without even discussing how they are going to fix the problem for their potential client.
I’ve sat in pre-proposal work meetings where all people talked about is what bits and pieces they were going to take from old proposals, so they could win this new one. Of course, if an old proposal has the information that you need, by all means, use it. However, this is going to get you about 15% of the way to winning the work.
You > Me
One of the things that will help is counting how many times you mentioned your company, and how many times you have mentioned the potential client in old proposals. If you see that the number of times your names pops up is more than theirs, then you know that you need to stop doing this. Your potential client should be mentioned five times to ten times (I prefer ten) more than you talk about yourself. Even in the Management section, you should try to slant it so it shows that your management approach is successful because of the following:
- You did the research to learn more about them
- Tailored your management approach so that it works for both of you
- You have an understanding as to how their organization functions
What works for one organization will not work for another one. Remember that lesson. Your potential client should feel like you understand they are the main focus, and that you really paid attention to the issue they want you to solve.
Formal or Informal
A proposal starts looking tacky when every sentence has “Company A Technologies, Inc.” and “Government Agency B.” You don’t have to be so formal when writing a proposal. The best proposals that have ever left my hands were the ones that had “I” and “You” in place of the organizations’ names. It flows better and gives it kind of a conversational tone, instead of the dry, formal “Company A Technologies, Inc.” and “Government Agency B.”
Just remember: Your potential client is the star; not you. Try not to outshine them in your proposals.