We all urgently want the proposal win themes we select to help raise us above the competition. But no matter how hard we try, there is always the fear that our win themes will fall short.

During the past 35 years, we have helped customers develop their proposal win themes hundreds of times.  The process provided below provides a proven approach to develop strong win themes.


Building Win Themes Checklist

Proposal Win Theme Attributes

 Get key management and technical members of the company as well as key proposal team members together to develop the list of Win Themes. To record, use a flip chart or marking board and laptop/electronic board/camera phone to capture in soft copy.

 Do upfront following the Kickoff Meeting at the latest. It would be preferable to provide to authors at the Kickoff Meeting.

 Do this in a two-step manner. The first session gets raw data on the slate. The second session refines data into more meaningful, succinctly stated, ear-catching phrases and sentences (catchy, but not corny).

 Do a memory dump of team and partner strengths as to what are team Discriminators. Use the Section M Evaluation Criteria and the weighting factors to guide priorities. Also, consider Sections L and C if Section M is nondescript, and consider Customer Hot Buttons.

 List strengths and weaknesses of each team partner (strive for unique items such as innovations, lessons learned, and tools/processes/experts that are discriminators).

 Describe and quantify improvements, benefits, values, advantages, and savings for the Customer. Provide proof and metrics of performance and expectations.

 List Customer Hot Buttons and most important items, and give solutions and benefits with proof.

 Develop a list of Customer problems, needs, and desires; and give our solutions to them.

 List outstanding achievements and awards of teaming partners and/or their staff on other contracts that are portable and beneficial to this contract.

 Develop proposal Win Themes by using the number of times that an activity or capability has been performed or obtained. Numbers help convince evaluators that we are experienced and are not new at the game, which means we are a low-risk selection.

 Develop themes on team partner synergy (i.e., why the whole is better than the sum of its parts).

 List strengths and weaknesses of competitors and develop Ghosts for competition that point out weaknesses. Develop approaches to level the playing field on competitor strengths.

 Develop separate lists of Win Themes, Discriminators, Hot Buttons, Features and Benefits, and Ghosts.

 Make sure each Proposal Win Theme is believable to you, as well as to the Customer.

 Hold the wording of the proposal win themes to 25 words or less with crisp, meaningful phrasing.

 Address the Evaluation Factors with heaviest weighting wherever reasonably possible.

 For re-competition of your contract, develop themes that effectively mine the history, growth, accomplishments, awards received, noteworthy actions, certifications, and promotions/recognition of people on the program. Develop themes demonstrating what the true corporate value-add is to the Customer beyond just providing people.

Need help creating your proposal win themes?