All you have to do is say the words, “Win Themes,” and even businesses with the most robust proposal teams and processes might cringe.
Why? Because the process of creating win themes can not only seem ambiguous, but also requires you to pause long enough to reflect and refine your messaging. In a perfect world, creating win themes would be a team-affair. Leadership, sales, proposal writers, proposal managers, and SMEs would get together and identify core features, benefits, and proof points. Then—still together—they would create standard win theme statements.
Sadly…the reality is that win themes are generated ad hoc and applied inconsistently throughout not only each proposal, but across the entire sales strategy. Most companies aren’t speaking the same corporate language and as multiple people write, edit, and comment throughout the lifecycle of a proposal…the end result comes across as a disjointed and unclear response.
The Truth is…
Compliant doesn’t cut it anymore. We know you’re never going to submit a response that just lists your products and services without explicitly responding to the statement of work. But, the worst case scenario is that you do just that. Competition is fierce these days and you have to assume that, at the very least, every other response submitted is going to be compliant too.
In order to set yourself apart, you need to show true understanding of how requirements tie together and create a response strong enough to elicit a reaction.
Set Your Company Apart
The only purpose of an RFP—whether GovCon or B2B—is to answer the ever elusive question: “Why should we choose you?” Well-written win themes can capture the attention and even the imagination of reviewers. Win themes show agencies you heard their issues during each stage of the sales cycle—meetings, conferences, RFP—and you have actually addressed them in your response. For example, one of our Proposal Managers leveraged established win themes to create a “Vision Graphic” in a proposal to show the agency:
- Their pain points were deeply understood.
- The solution spoke directly to relieving those pains.
- How all the requirements would be met and delivered at contract end.
- A glimpse of what they could receive beyond contract end. The long game. The dream.
Not only was that contract won, but the client’s feedback at kickoff was that the vision resonated. Our Proposal Manager literally showed them, using win themes, how the solution would make them feel.
The bottom line: win themes make it clear why you and your company are the best fit, make your proposal easier to evaluate, help you tell a compelling story, and allow you to garner consistently higher win rates than minimally compliant responses alone.
Who Doesn’t Want to Win More?
Because win themes are so vital and tied to proposal win rates, we’ve put together a series on win themes. In this series, we’ll cover:
- WHY win themes are so important (that’s this post!).
- WHAT win themes are and aren’t. Example: we hear a lot of clients say, “best value” is a core win theme. Nope. It’s actually not even a compliant or compelling statement—let alone a win theme.
- HOW you can create win themes. There’s a lot of different methods out there, but we’ll share the approach our Proposal Managers use (and the approach our clients rave about).
Actively engage with stronger win themes that tell a story and elicit a reaction. And get on our calendar if you need help. Our training seminars and workshops cover every aspect of proposal writing and win theme development.