I’m addicted to the television show “Law and Order.” Thanks to reruns, I can occasionally lose myself in interesting storylines and the process of building a case to ultimately convict the bad guys.
Proposal writing is weirdly similar (except the end game is to secure a contract, rather than a conviction). Sure, a winning proposal answers L&M completely and effectively. But it’s more than that. A winning proposal tells a compelling story, with evidence, about how my customer’s solutions are better than its competitors. Just like in “Law and Order,” where the evidence is the basis for the conviction, the evidence in a proposal is the basis for awarding the contract.
What exactly is that evidence in a proposal?
The Strengths of your offer.
Hearing this answer typically leads to a sigh of relief from the staff of nearly every firm for whom I’ve consulted. “Strengths – oh that’s easy – this work is in our wheelhouse. Our experience is our strength!”
The Federal Government has a different idea. Strengths are often defined in Section M, albeit typically vaguely, which could be cause for the confusion.
So … what are scoreable strengths?
Unless otherwise defined in Section M, strengths are benefits that increase the probability of successful contract performance. Ideally, strengths are discriminators and include three components:
- A solution feature that either exceeds a requirement or reduces risk
- The benefit resulting from that feature and linked to either mission or contract objectives
- Substantiation – proof that the claims are real (quantified when possible)
Strengths are NOT:
- Experience (unless aptly tied to a benefit with proof)
- Universal statements that can apply to any competitor
Take the test: is this a scoreable strength?
“Our technical approach includes a sustainable engineered wetland treatment system (EWTS).”
No. It only cites a feature (EWTS), which is likely a requirement. However, with some thought – this simple statement can become a scoreable strength:
“To meet the Air Force’s need for a long-term, sustainable groundwater remediation system (linked to program objectives), COMPANY X designed an EWTS (feature) similar to those proven successful for the Army on the MADEUP Contract (proof). Our EWTS uses energy-efficient, ‘green’ elements (e.g., natural cascade aeration and gravity flow) and an innovative approach to remediation – groundwater reuse via infiltration (exceeds requirement) – to treat contaminated groundwater and save the Air Force two-thirds the cost of a conventional system O&M (benefit).”
Having trouble discerning a true strength? Give us a call – we can help.