When you Do a Proposal, Think about your Competition

When companies develop proposals to government agencies, they often focus so much on the proposal development process that they fail to notice that other companies will be bidding for the same contract.  This is unlikely in large companies with large marketing and business development departments, but it is common in small businesses.

You may be superbly qualified to win the bid, but so are other companies.  Consequently, you must know your competition and use that information to shape your proposal.  Undertaking a competitive analysis is important because it will help determine the content of your proposal and your proposal’s pricing structure.

Take these steps below to develop a good competitive analysis:

Gather information about potential bidders

What are their strengths?  What are their weaknesses?  What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  You should ask these kinds of questions:

  • Is there an incumbent?  How does the government agency view the incumbent?
  • Who are our potential competitors?  What do they have to offer?
  • Do we have any competitive advantages?  Competitive weaknesses?
  • Can we win?  How?  How or why could we lose?
  • Do we really know the market and the government agency?
  • How do we position ourselves to win?

Develop a win strategy

Now that you know the competitive landscape, you need to develop win themes that highlight your strengths, address your weaknesses, and neutralize your competitors.  This can only be done after you understand what the government agency’s major issues and concerns are.  Proving that you are qualified is not enough.  You must show that you are better qualified than everybody else.

Develop a price-to-win budget

Once you understand your competitors, you can develop a budget that is reasonable and provides great value to the government agency. 

Make sound teaming decisions

Many proposal bids involve multiple partners.  Once you have done your competitive analysis, you can identify and choose partners that will make your bid stronger by addressing your deficiencies and the strengths of your competitors.  Bringing on teaming partners is a tried-and-true approach to besting the competition.

If you do not undertake an honest, thoughtful competitive analysis as your first step, you are not likely to submit a winning proposal.  This is crucial.  Once you understand the competition, you can then design a process and develop the content that will make you a strong bidder.


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