How Can You Develop Compelling Win Themes?

A good proposal tells a compelling story, and to tell a compelling story you must have strong win themes because they help reviewers understand why you can provide the best solution to the problem identified in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

One of the wisest people on the subject of developing strong win themes is Mr. Chris Simmons, the founder and Principal of Rainmakerz Consulting.  I strongly recommend that proposal professionals read his five-part series on “How to Create Great Proposal Themes” at www.rainmakerz.biz/news.html.

According to Simmons, a strong win theme has four components:

  • It links customer benefits to your solution features.
  • It supports the solution.
  • It contains specific information.
  • It provides reasons and proof that evaluators need to select you.

Developing compelling win themes is not an easy process.  It will involve several meetings and plenty of brainstorming.  However, the results will justify the effort because your win themes will (1) provide overarching story lines for the entire proposal; and (2) provide more specific story lines for the technical and management volumes.

To develop strong win themes, you must provide differentiators, or proof that sets you apart from the competition and demonstrates to reviewers that your proposed solution is likely to work.  In other words, a good win theme has these elements:

Theme = Features + Benefits + Proof

To create compelling win themes, take these steps:

  • Step 1:  State the basic requirement.  Example:  Provide new accounting software.
  • Step 2:  Add features and benefits.  Example:  Reduce staff training time from four to one hour.
  • Step 3:  Add differentiator.  Example:  Has been successfully implemented in seven Department of Defense projects.

Now you have a great win theme:  Our accounting software reduces staff training time from four to one hour and has been successfully implemented in seven Department of Defense projects.

However, your work has just begun.  To truly make this a compelling win theme, you will need to demonstrate (1) how the software reduces training time; and (2) why it has been successful in seven Department of Defense projects.

This will involve focusing on the features of your software and your past performance with the Department of Defense.  In other words, a compelling win theme is the beginning of a compelling argument that will convince reviewers that you have a great solution to the problem identified in the RFP.

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