June 2013: A Lawyer’s Perspective On Maximizing Proposal Strengths
June 30, 2013
[The background of this article is my experience as an intellectual property attorney in the late 1990’s.]
While the mindset of the engineer may be key to defining the winning technical solution, the mindset of the litigator provides the best means to develop and convincingly present the strengths of the solution in the proposal itself.
To that end, we must imagine ourselves as courtroom lawyers …and the SSA/SSET the judge and jury. A competent litigator attempts to persuasively amass as much evidence as possible in a complete, deliberate manner which supports each element of the legal claim/case, keeping in mind that the judge/jury may choose to disbelieve the evidence presented. Analogously then, our mission is to deliberately develop, and comprehensively present, strengths for every aspect of the proposal which is evaluated in Section M….keeping in mind that the SSA/SSET may choose to disbelieve--or discount--our proffering of strengths .
How is this best accomplished ?
Keep your strengths list current. As part of keeping capture/ proposal strategy fresh, define and refine strengths at least once a week throughout the proposal development period (collaborative strength workshops or weekly strategy sessions are a great way to accomplish this)
Cast a wide net. Try to make at least one strength out of each M criteria and M sub-criteria as mapped to the proposal outline in a complete, rigorous, and integrated approach (as a best practice, use the annotated X-Ref Matrix report from Proposal Navigator® to start the table).
Be crisp and clear. Even if not required by the RFP, provide precise pointers from your strengths table(s) to the relevant section nos. at least, and perhaps to the relevant page nos.
Provide hard evidence/ objective proofs of claims (e.g. past performance, CPARs, customer quotes, etc.) in the strength table(s) and elaborate further in your prose.
Be credible. Don’t lose the reader…ask yourself, could an evaluator reasonably believe this claim ? If so, offer it up as a strength. If not, don’t burn your credibility (but keep the item in mind as a possible weakness that needs to be mitigated).
Make it easier for the evaluator to accept than reject the strength claims. Pile on the “evidence” and push the burden to the evaluator to say “no” over and over again to your strength claims… enable him/her to simply give in and copy/ paste it into his/her evaluation software as the easiest path forward.
Include your strengths in Proposal Navigator®. Thus they are automatically included in Writers’ Guides and Reviewers’ Checklists going forward.