As many Federal Government contractors tackle the newest array of requests for proposals that are coming out, there is an important element of proposal writing that must be contained in every response – value propositions. Too many Government contractors leave this ingredient out of their proposals. Our emphasis typically is on the business volume, but the concept of value propositions is universal to every proposal. Make this year the time when you will create your value propositions for every proposal.
Value propositions are your promise to your customer that you will deliver when you are selected. Notice we said, “when” you are selected. Because if you want to stand out from your competitors, you must demonstrate your value to that customer so they can choose you! Don’t make the customer hunt and search for your value. Put it right up front where they can’t miss it. Repeating your value proposition in dollarized terms in the business volume is certainly what most, if not all, of your competitors miss. Make your business volume so unique with the value you bring expressed in money terms the customer can understand, that they almost use your value proposition wording to validate their choice of you!
Stand Out from Your Competitors
This concept called value proposition is thrown about cavalierly. If you want to stand out from your competitors, present a value proposition that really means something to the customer. Putting a “value” on your added value in the business proposal is so important but it is forgotten too often. All customers want to know what you’ll do for them and how you stand out from your competition. Developing and communicating clear differentiators and powerful value propositions can mean the difference between winning and losing. Presenting the value associated with that makes it that much more powerful to the customer – they have a “wow” moment.
Most customers are only focused on “what’s in it for me.” You have a better chance of winning when, before the solicitation is advertised, you truly give your customer something that brings value to them, and you provide them with evidence so that price is just a part of the equation and not the only decision-factor. When you demonstrate how you add true value they care about, and why your proof of the value you bring is important to them, only then can you set yourself apart from your competition.
Why this is so important?
Truly customers buy benefits, not just claims of how you are better without the supporting data to demonstrate. Customers ask themselves “what’s in it for me?” and you need to prove to them they get some real benefits by choosing your company. How do you do that?
- Go find evidence. Two steps to this include customer discovery of their pain points and determining your own measured proof of previous successes. By unearthing the evidence both in your discovery conversations with the customer as well as gathering your own confirmation of where you have succeeded similarly in the past with other customers (and maybe this customer too), you are in the first step to achieving a valuable value proposition. Phew, that’s a lot and only the first step.
- Discover your differentiators & put a value on them. So what is truly different about your company from your competitors (they don’t have this, really) AND, most importantly, your customer really cares about it. It’s as if you unearth THE exclusive item in your basket that is truly the red apple your customer needs and wants more than anything. Before you leave that thought, be sure to find out the value this has to your customer as well as determining how much value you can assess for it in your own ways. Don’t just take the customer’s assessment of the value in dollars and worthiness, find out for yourself how much you can save your customer in time, money and schedule with your resolution and results. Actually, put a dollar value of that savings together. Save that thought. We are going to use it to your advantage here.
- Show and demonstrate how you have done that before. When you want to really leave an impression on the potential customer, prove that you have experience making the claim you make that gives that customer value. Simply said, exhibit your value successes in words, graphics and benefits to the customer so that it is a slam dunk about why you stand out from the crowd. Reveal your positive accomplishments in a way that makes it irrefutable that you should be the chosen organization.
- Does it save time, money, and bring value? If you don’t or your answer to why you are the best ultimately does not save time, money or deliver value then don’t bother to bid it. Why? Because it is just too time-consuming to do so and you would not be offering your customer a great reason to choose you. On the other hand, if you do any or all of these, then illustrate and confirm for the customer clearly how you will do that using pictures, graphs, charts, info-charts, tables and comparison diagrams of your features and benefits to them.
- Values you must use. Your claims about the grand and glorious benefits you offer are just words on the page. Without data to back up your claims, you can’t make an impression on the customer. Every time you talk about the highlights of your proposed value proposition, you must assess the dollar value of each and every assertion. Remember it must be valuable in the mind of the customer. Monetary payback or savings is usually important. Typically if you want it to be noticeable, it should also give you a competitive advantage too. Efficiency gains are another source of customer valued items. Your value proposition must better the customer’s situation, be different from what has been given before to that customer, and be important to them.
- How to display it and where and when. The simple answer is often and all over your proposal. While you may not repeat each concept over and over again, you would be wise to develop a series of themes for each section of your business proposal that drive off of your overall value proposition and use visuals to convey the concepts. The place that gets the most controversy is the business executive summary. It is important unless it is prohibited to use a specially-written business executive summary and display your overarching value proposition in visual methods the customer will catch. Use tables, graphs, charts, pictures, info-graphics, and text boxes. We like to suggest that you use these tools in every section and sometimes on every page.
Emphasizing Value Propositions
Written by Marsha Lindquist, President of Granite Leadership Strategies, Inc., She has over 30 years experience as a business expert in Government contracting. She has enhanced her clients’ cost competitiveness, improved their contractual positioning, and solidified overall strategies with companies including BP Amoco, DynCorp, and Northrop Grumman. Marsha adds value by telling you what you need to hear.
For more information, please visit: wwwGraniteLeadershipStrategies.com
or email her: Marsha@GraniteLeadershipStrategies.com
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