Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Winning proposals

A few months ago I was on a committee to award a project. We had about five teams that could have easily done the job, what separated them was their ability to transfer knowledge. In the proposals and presentations a few quick things jumped out at me,

1) Proposals are a reflection of what you will produce. Examples that I didn't like were:
- Proposals that did not focus on the end product (more on this later)
- The first 20 pages were on the team (see comment above)
- Small things that made it difficult to read the proposals i.e. small font, colored boxes that hid the text, pamphlets and loose information that fell out.

2) During the presentations, the most important thing is that the reviewers like you and want to work with you.
- If you are a team, present as a team (often one person takes over the conversation too much)
- Don't try to oversell optional items. One team lost because they spent 60% of their time, saying we need this additional item.
- All of your team need to be strong presenters, not just the principals. The team I voted for had the best #3 person (the one who would do all the work).
- Prepare, prepare ....

Winning proposals is about who can best transfer knowledge, saying as clearly as possbile how you will best meet the requestors need.

In my consulting practice, I started working with teams preparing proposals. It's great to help technical experts. They know their subject area, but not necessarily transferring their knowledge into winning proposals.

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