How to Develop Win Strategies and Win Themes

The win strategies and win themes you develop will determine whether or not your proposal is funded.  It is that simple.  If reviewers cannot quickly understand what are the main themes of your proposal and find them compelling, your proposal probably will receive a low evaluation score.

David Warley, a proposal management professional, has provided good advice about how to do this systematically and thoughtfully.  According to him, you should follow a seven-step strategy, which is explained below.

Step 1:  Focus on the Issues

Make a list of the most pressing issues your customer is facing.  This list should be longer rather than shorter.

Step 2:  Analyze your Capability

Once you have your list, analyze your company’s ability to meet them.  If you have too many issues that you cannot address, you should not bid on the contract opportunity.

Step 3:  Find your Discriminators

Once you have decided to bid, make a list of discriminators that shows your competitors and their ability to address the issues.  You are trying to determine your own gaps and those of your competitors, which will matter to the customer.

Step 4:  Identify Strategies

Now you need to identify four basic strategies:  (1) mitigate your weaknesses; (2) address your competitors’ strengths; (3) highlight your own strengths; and (4) ghost your competitors’ weaknesses.  Identify those strategies that are likely to work for you.

Step 5:  Choose your Themes

Develop your win themes based on your strategies.  Each win theme must answer a simple but tough question:  So what?

Step 6:  Develop your Theme Statements

Turn your win themes into statements to use in your proposal.  Your win themes should address the following :  goals, issues, features, benefits, and proofs.  Every win theme must show how your solution will benefit the customer.

Step 7:  Weave your Win Themes into your Proposal

When you outline your proposal and develop your storyboards, weave your win themes into your Executive Summary, call-out boxes, major sections, and action captions for pictures.  These win themes will serve as the scaffolding of your proposal.

Warley is right.  There is a great deal to be said for using lists!  Develop win strategies and theme statements before you begin outlining and writing, and your proposals will be more focused, persuasive, and compelling.

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