Consulting|Technology|International business

Book review — Powerful Proposals

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This is a book on how to respond to RFP’s.

I need to also mention this point that MBA’s usually don’t teach us much about either Sales or how to make proposals etc. They only center around the analytical functions of management and general management.

Responding to RFP’s fall very much under the technical proposal writing function/the Pre-sales function and Pre-sales is a pure Sales function.

This book speaks about the do’s and don’t’s and summarizes a critical concept in proposal writing we ignore all too often – attention to detail.

They speak of a concept of us pitching to the customer in the following areas:

Why us?

Why not them? (them = competitors)

So what? (So what if you have this this and this feature, what value does it add to me – is what the customer would be interested in?)

How so? (How are you saying your technical details would help us achieve this this and this? Do you have proof? – is what the customer would be interested in.)

It also classifies the proposal evaluators into the following categories:


E = Experts

N = Non experts

I = Inductive

D = Deductive

S = Scanners

S = Skimmers

V = Visual

V = Verbal

Now, they group the above categories of people in sets of even and odd i.e.


The bold faced ones form one category and the non bold faced ones form the other.

The book also talks about the powerful proposal matrix and how they are graded according to this matrix by evaluators.

Further, it goes on to say that there are three critical items for a proposals success (illustrated with examples). These are:

1. Credibility

2. Acceptability

3. Preference

There is also an important aspect it touches upon that cites that most deals are made in the opening game, middle game. The RFP comes towards the stage when the end game is being played. This is analogous to a game of chess.

In fact, the same authors have written a book on the analogy of a chess game with the concept of business development.

There is a famous saying I came across in this book that I have come across before too – Sell the sizzle to sell the steak!

How true!


Written by Naveen Athresh

November 28, 2006 at 2:42 pm

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