20 Laws of Winning Proposals

Sep 10, 2018

20 Laws of Winning Proposals

This time of year, the Government’s acquisition cycle is in full swing. Sometimes it helps to step back and consider what makes a difference between winning and losing government contracts.

Here are 20 proposal laws that help your P-Win. Violate any of these canons at your own risk.

1. Contract Awards Go To The Best Proposals, Not The Best Companies

2. A Proposal Is A Living Organism And Must Be Respected As Such. All Parts Must Work Together To Form A Cohesive Whole

3. The Mindset Of The Proposal Team Has An Impact On Win Probability

4. A Winning Proposal Is One That Gives More Than It Takes. A Company Will Win More Contracts When It Genuinely Puts Customers Ahead Of Profits.

5. A Winning Proposal Is One That Identifies, And Then Meets The Needs, Wants, And Preferences Of The Customer

6. A Winning Proposal Creates A Win-Win For The Parties But More So For The Customer

7. A Winning Proposal Requires Courage. Risk Not, Win Not

8. To Win The Proposal Team Must Think Outside The Box, Rather Than Be Constrained By It

9. Enlightened Companies Use The Proposal As A Means To Pay It Forward

10. A Proposal Team Rift With Strife Has Little Chance Of Winning. End Gossip, Interoffice Politics, Backbiting, Murmuring, Factions, And Turf Battles.

11. Like Any Endeavor, A Proposal Benefits From Good Karma And Is Harmed By Bad

12. A Proposal Effort Generating Negative Energy As It Is Developed Will Radiate Negative Energy As It Is Evaluated.

13. The "Soul" Of A Proposal Is Found At The Intersections Of Service, Sacrifice, Integrity, And Duty.

14. Most Proposals Are Soulless, Mere Attempts By Companies To Seduce Customers Into Awarding Them A Contract. Don't be one of the many. 

15. An Inward Focused Proposal Reeks Of Corporate Self-Interest. An Outward Focused Proposal Appeals To The Highest Aspirations Of The Customer.

16. Government Evaluators Can Tell When A Proposal Team Has Just Gone Through The Motions To Deliver A Document.

17. A Winning Proposal Is One That Delivers Value And Solutions To Real Problems. A Losing Proposal Contains But Empty Promises.

18. A Winning Proposal Is One That Advances The Best Interests Of The Customer, Not The Self-Interests Of Its Authors.

19. The Government Is Unlikely To Trust An Offeror Whose Proposal Essentially Says “Trust Us”

20. Winning A Contract Is Not All Joy And Satisfaction. No Pain. No Gain.

how to develop a proposal plan


Jim McCarthy

Written by Jim McCarthy

Jim McCarthy is the Founder of Key Solutions. He has 35+ years of GovCon experience and leadership—first on Capitol Hill, then as founder of Key Solutions, a leading government contracting consulting firm which has helped clients win over $185 billion dollars in government contracts. He also hosted the CBS/ WUSA9 television show Government Contracting Weekly from 2012-2014.

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