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7 Key Techniques to Win Proposals
Do you know why you lose? Get a Debrief!

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Preface, Introduction and Index

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Winning is Everything

The only reason you write proposals is to win more business.

Whether you are an individual writing proposals or part of a business development team responding to RFP's, you need to write clear, concise and compelling proposals that separate you from the competition and convince your client.

A clear strategy for winning is the foundation for everything else you do when developing a proposal response, but how you represent that strategy and the solution, evidence and benefits you bring to the client could mean the difference between winning and losing during the evaluation process.

This book starts off by looking at how to develop your strategy for a winning proposal and then shows you how a structure and write your proposal so it will be persuasive and compelling to your client.

Developing a strategy for winning will give you the edge over your competition and translating your strategy into a written proposal that is compelling to your client is the key to a successful proposal.

Simply put, winning means getting your client to choose your proposal over your competition.

Get the strategic techniques you need to change your proposals from simply providing information to delivering clear, concise and compelling proposals that differentiate you from the competition, persuade your client and win more business.

Learn from Michel's experience writing winning proposals that resulted in billions of dollars in revenues. Get insider knowledge that's based on his work with buyers developing RFP documents, conducting procurement initiatives, evaluating bid submissions and coaching evaluators.

This book includes checklists, tips and over 50 examples that illustrate the techniques and demonstrate the good, the bad and the ugly.


Table of Contents

Winning is Everything   1

Using this Book to Win More Proposals  2

Part 1    Write a Winning Proposal   3

  • Be Strategic    4
  • What Skills Do You Need?   5
  • What Makes a Winning Proposal?   7
  • What Makes a Losing Proposal?  17
  • Do You Know Why You Lost?    22
  • Alphabet Soup – RFPs and More   24
  • The Eight Golden Rules for a Successful Proposal 28
  • Summary  29

Part 2    Survival of the Fittest 31

  • The Process  32
  • Manage the Process, Don't Let it Manage You  46
  • Surviving the Site Tour and Bidders Meetings  46
  • Herding Cats  48
  • Pulling Teeth  49
  • Reality Check – The Red Team   51
  • Your Proposal Team   54
  • Summary  57

Part 3    Prepare for Battle – Strategy for Success  59

  • It’s More Than Just Writing a Proposal 60
  • Develop Your Response Strategy  60
  • If You Aren't Sure, Ask  72
  • Dissecting the RFP  73
  • What You Need to Do to Get to the Table  79
  • Playing the Game – Evaluation Scoring  83
  • Get Your Couch – You Need an Analysis  85
  • Help the Client Help Themselves  88
  • How Do You Respond to a Bad RFP?  89
  • Go Bold or Go Home  94
  • Cafeteria Pricing  95
  • Surviving Bad Situations  98
  • Summary  105

Part 4    Figuring Out What the Client Really Wants  107

  • Do You Know What the Client Wants?  108
  • Do They Really Care About Value-Added?  113
  • Can You Give Them What They Need?  115
  • Espionage, the Modern (and Legal) Way  118
  • Care and Feeding of Evaluators  120
  • Don’t Let Perception Overwhelm Reality  122
  • Why Would They Want to Work With You?  124
  • Summary  127

Part 5    If You Can’t Sell, Go Home  129

  • Can You Sell What You're Selling?  130
  • Sell the Steak as Well as the Sizzle  133
  • It’s Not About You – It’s About Them   134
  • Ghosts Can Lead to Success  135
  • Making Your Message Stick  137
  • Mirroring  140
  • Assess and Target the Evaluators  141
  • Ask Yourself Critical Questions for Success  142
  • Answer the Question the Client Doesn't Ask  144
  • Do You Adapt to the Proposal Style?  145
  • Summary  155

Part 6    It’s All About the Content 157

  • One-Size-Fits-All is Not a Winning Strategy  158
  • Bigger is Not Better  160
  • For the Prosecution – It's All About the Evidence  160
  • So, What Have You Done For Me Lately?  162
  • Answer the Damn Question! 164
  • A Picture is Worth More Than 1,000 Words  166
  • Don't Put Too Much Junk in the Trunk  167
  • Get Rid of the Clutter  170
  • They Didn’t Ask? Tell Them Anyway! 171
  • Telling Stories  172
  • Extracting Material from SMEs and Subcontractors  173
  • Compliance Matrix  174
  • Summary  178

Part 7    Getting it All On Paper  179

  • The Elements of Successful Proposal Writing  180
  • What You’re Up Against 180
  • Avoid Disaster – Start with an Outline  183
  • Build in the Message  184
  • How Much Should You Write?  184
  • Write to Communicate  186
  • Do You Have Any Idea How to Write and Edit?  192
  • Writing to Persuade, Not Sedate  193
  • Write From the Client’s Point of View   195
  • Too Much Detailed Information  196
  • Are You Still Using a Typewriter?  197
  • Should You Use a Professional Writer?  199
  • Use a Writing Process  200
  • Win With Format and Structure  202
  • Your Writing Style Matters  208
  • Go Fishing  212
  • Managing the Production Process  213
  • Summary  215

Part 8    Things Clients Want You to Know   216

  • Differentiate Yourself 217
  • Skip the Sales Pitch  217
  • Follow the Format 218
  • Understand the Requirements  219
  • Don't Assume Familiarity  220
  • Don't Give Us Marketing Fluff 220
  • Show Us That You Care  221
  • Don’t Use Boilerplate Material 222
  • What Not to Do  224

Quick Reference Material 226

References  239

Index  240