Winning Proposal Strategies


Regardless of what your firm is doing, now is the time to rethink your proposal strategies, enter new markets, and change how you message future clients.

You’re not alone! Before you decide on a new strategy, consider the three questions and answers at right. And here are some of the things you need to do if you want to move to the front of the pack:

1. Stop thinking “BD” and start thinking “CRM”. BD – Business Development – is a last-century compartmentalised concept, focused on winning projects. CRM – Client Relationship Management – is a firm-wide, client-focused, year-round strategic process that includes BD as a component. LEARN MORE about CRM.

2. Stop complaining about being stuck in a “commodity box”. PSMJ offers strategies you can use to lessen your clients’ reliance on commodity-based thinking, and move them toward value-based thinking. For those you cannot budge loose from commodity-based thinking, leave them to your competitors. LEARN MORE about Commodity Box escape.

3.Turn everybody in your firm into a marketer. Send all of your project managers to the PSMJ Project Management Essentials program and have them teach remaining team members how they fit into managing a client-centric process. They will also learn how to become better negotiators, which will increase your project fees by converting scope creep into contract variations resulting in immediate ROI.

4. Take advantage of PSMJ’s FREE Proposal Assessment Service: Send us 3 each successful and unsuccessful proposals. We’ll run a confidential, high-level assessment of them at no charge, and make suggestions on how you could increase your success rate. What’s the ROI on that? Call us: +61 9686 3846 – to arrange an assessment.

5. Get PSMJ on your Team. Email us, or call Charles on +61 409 805 907 to discuss your needs or request a proposal. The ROI on working with you? Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back. You just can’t lose.

You Asked...

Click a question to see the answer
  1. How can we improve our proposal strike rate?


    Question 1 answer:

    Good proposal writing is a fine art, and a complex business. In the US, PSMJ offers a full two-day program on how to do it better.

    We don’t offer that program in Australia-New Zealand, but the key principles of it are embedded in the PM Essentials program – and we include several specific techniques that help project managers to become better proposal writers.

    If your “strike rate” is declining, it’s a sign that your marketing approach may not be keeping up with the times, resulting in spending more resources to win fewer projects.

    Firms today often see this as a catalyst to re-examine their proposal strategies, including how proposals are structured and written.

  2. Ever since we founded our practice, we've used our track record; our past projects; to win new work. You're telling us that's not good enough any more. WHY NOT? What's changed?


    Question 2 (long) answer:

    Like it or not, process, context, position, solution, and value has replaced past results captured in your Portfolio of Pretty Pictures of Past Projects.

    Commercial clients want their new projects to stand out as unique solutions to their customer’s changing requirements. Specifically, to be “different from and better than” their competitors’ past projects – like the ones in your portfolio.

    Your choice is to Get in front or be left behind. Your elegant history won’t cut it without changing the conversation.

    Your history does have value that can be exploited, as long as your descriptions make clear how that experience responded to particular requirements clients have. The marketing value is in the process that led to the visible result, not the result itself. If that process resonates with the prospective client, they will imagine a similar one will create a uniquely responsive solution for them.

    Institutional clients have similar approaches, and can be more focused on functionality than appearance. Process descriptions of how you listen, learn, assess, and respond to these client needs are just as relevant.

    Demonstrated, provable, skills in managing time, risk, quality and construction cost are very important to both commercial and institutional clients. How do you best communicate your track record?

    Marketing must align with firm leadership values, aspirations and fears. As a service, PSMJ reviews your strategies and assumptions, compares those to what we know about current markets, and provides documented advice on how to better “tap into” current market expectations.

  3. We've always been careful to control project risk by putting exclusions for risky situations into our proposals. Any reason why we shouldn't keep doing that?


    Question 3 answer:

    One area of opportunity is how to approach project risk. Many design firms stay as far away from risk as possible, leaving potential clients in the dark about processes you use to manage risk. That is a losing strategy. That is a losing strategy.

    Winning strategies must manage risk, and show alternative solutions that lay the foundation for a plan when surprises occur. Without that, your best proposal efforts will go straight into the recycle bin.

    PSMJ can show you how to use risk, at the proposal level, to increases your chance of winning without increasing your firm’s exposure.

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