Just as a turbocharger increases an engine’s power and efficiency by forcing air and fuel into the combustion chamber, the Win Rate Breakthrough Win Theme Methodology will increase the power of your win theme creation engine, by injecting a structured process and inferential thinking.
As a capture manager, you want to inspire your proposal team with a compelling explanation of why your solution will best fulfill the customer’s needs. But writing that story might be difficult for one of these reasons:
- You do not know the customer’s hot buttons.
- You have developed a Feature-Benefit-Proof table, but the results are not compelling.
- Win theme development is not your strength.
Regardless, of the reason, the 4-Step Win Rate Breakthrough Win Theme Methodology will enable you to systematically build a compelling story using the information you already have.
Opportunity intelligence is always helpful, but the Win Rate Breakthrough Win Theme Methodology does not require answering a long capture questionnaire. Whatever information you have right now is fine. The steps are:
- Categorize your knowledge.
- Identify your gaps.
- Fill your gaps.
- Write your stories.
Each of these steps is achievable. No need to worry that you do not have the time, resources, or customer access to learn more about the opportunity.
STEP 1: CATEGORIZE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
In this step you gather all of the knowledge you have about the opportunity, your solution, and your history on related projects, break it up into factoids, and then categorize those factoids into 5 buckets:
These categories were inspired by the book Powerful Proposals: How to Give Your Business the Winning Edge by David G. Pugh and Terry R. Bacon. Pugh & Bacon explain that their five categories are what you need to create a complete win theme. By sorting your factoids into these buckets, you are gathering the win theme elements you will later use to build complete, compelling win themes.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY YOUR GAPS
Next you need to figure out what Goal, Risk, Feature, Result, and Proof (GRFRP) factoids are missing and thereby preventing you from having complete win themes. To do this, you first look for alignment among the GRFRPs you have. For example, you probably have lots of features. Can you find the Risks and Goals that those Features address? Can you find the Features that align with your Proof factoids? Once you have aligned all available factoids, where are your gaps? Where do you need a Goal, a Risk, a Feature, a Result, or Proof to form a complete win theme?
STEP 3: FILL YOUR GAPS
Filling the gaps requires thinking and inference. As an example, consider a bid to provide IV&V (Independent Verification and Validation) services for a systems integration project. (IV&V means checking contractor performance to confirm they are meeting standards and fulfilling requirements.) A Feature of the team’s solution is their ability to establish cordial relations with contractors whose work they are reviewing. So they have that Feature, but they do not know a customer Goal or Risk that goes with it.
To find a Risk to accompany this Feature, they ask themselves:
“What risk or problem might we solve for this customer by establishing cordial relations with the systems integrator?”
One problem customers often have is a lack of visibility into the challenges their systems integrators are facing. Customers like to know about those challenges if on-time project completion might be at risk. If delays are possible, early action might be needed. But systems integrators do not always want to reveal their challenges, hoping they can resolve the problems before the schedule is affected. Customers still want to know though.
A Risk that the cordial relations Feature could address is therefore:
“Lack of visibility into problems that could cause delays.”
By developing trust with the systems integration contractor, the IV&V contractor is able to develop a complete picture of project status, and can signal the customer about emerging problems.
So they now have a Feature and a Risk. They still need a Goal, a Result, and Proof. To get the Goal, they ask another question:
“If the customer faces the Risk cited above (about lack of visibility) what Goal might not be attained?”
If the customer were to receive no warning about schedule challenges, delays could go unaddressed. So the Goal to deliver the system on-time would be at risk. Suppose that would mean missing their Congressionally mandated deadline to deliver new service to citizens. The affected Goal would then be, “Meet the Congressionally mandated deadline for new service.”
What about the Result? The Result is that the customer gets early warning about any emerging Risks, in time to take evasive action.
And the Proof? There was that project for the Department of Energy where, because of the atmosphere of openness and trust that the IV&V contractor created, the customer received early warning about likely delays and was able to manage the expectations of their stakeholders in Congress and the OMB.
So that’s it. They have all five. A Goal, a Risk, a Feature, a Result, and Proof. Each GRFRP set that you complete enables you to write an Win Rate Breakthrough Mini-Story.
STEP 4: WRITE YOUR STORIES
Here is the Win Rate Breakthrough Mini-Story that goes with the GRFRP above:
To help the Government meet the Congressionally mandated deadline, we will provide early warning of any risks we discover that could affect the program schedule. By developing a relationship of trust with the systems integrator, we expect to have deep insights about program status and be in a position to notify the Government about emerging problems. This is similar to what we were able to do for the Department of Energy on the XYZ program where our early warning about schedule delays enabled them to negotiate a solution with the stakeholders affected by the delay.
Typically you will have a set of stories like this for each proposal. You will have to decide which stories will be most important to the customer, and highlight them accordingly.
The power of this approach is that it enables you to systematically build compelling win themes using logical inference and whatever information you already have.
WHAT IF YOU CANNOT FILL THE GAPS?
I am usually able to use this method to fill the gaps by drawing on my experience as an IT project manager and program manager. Reading the RFP and the customer’s website is usually enough to enable me to do this.
But if you have difficulty inferring the customer’s Goals and Risks, you can still use this method by engaging more experienced members of your team to help you imagine those Goals and Risks. In fact this is a much better way to engage them than asking “What should our win themes be for this bid?” That question invariably produces answers that lack essential win theme elements (elements of GRFRP). An example of a much better question to ask is:
“What risk or problem might we address for this customer by establishing cordial relations with the systems integrator?”
By applying the above framework and asking your team about specific GRFRP gaps, you will provoke thinking that will result in much better win themes. This method is much more powerful than traditional Feature-Benefit-Proof analysis because it requires consideration of the customer’s Goals and Risks. This results in win themes that are much more likely to resonate.
Is the above method something you can apply to your proposal development? What more would you like to know about this method? Please post a comment below.
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