How Can You Use Good Win Themes to Strengthen your Proposal?

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

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

Features are characteristics or elements of your solution that satisfy or exceed the requirements of the RFP.  They are the means to your end, not the end itself.

Benefits are advantages that solve the customer’s problem or address a major concern.  They may include such elements as higher performance levels, increased efficiency, reduced risk, or a solution to the customer’s problem.

A strong win theme has demonstrable differentiators.  A bad win theme is all features and no proof.  A terrible win theme simply restates the RFP requirements and fails to answer the all-important “So What?” question.

Placing your win themes strategically in your proposal is the next step.  They should be in your Executive Summary and lead your proposal volumes.  Putting them in bold or in a call-out boxes will help reviewers get your points without any effort.

Once you have created your win themes and integrated them into your proposal draft, you should review your draft to answer these questions:

  • Are my win themes along with features, benefits, and proofs clear and highlighted throughout my proposal?
  • Are my win themes used as thesis sentences to begin proposal volumes and key sections?
  • Do I use focus boxes and other devices to emphasize my themes and proofs?
  • Do I use action captions under each graphic that link them to my win themes?
  • Are there any unsubstantiated claims?
  • Do I quantify the benefits to provide proof?

Remember, good win themes are very important, but you must find ways to highlight them throughout your proposal so that reviewers can find them quickly and understand them easily.

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