Solution Storyboards, a Bid Management Best Practice
A proposal does not have to be a lengthy technical discourse, unless the prospect has asked for whatever detail you can muster. If you can deliver it with a persuasive pitch, without forsaking brevity and clarity, then you may have set the pace for a compelling, potentially winning finish.
Technology can be difficult to grasp, so solution intricacies do need to be articulated well in your proposal. But any effort to overplay it may result in jargon-filled technical mumbo jumbo and be counter-productive.
Smooth Demos, Compelling Proposal and a Wow Outcome
Solution strength and superiority are best showcased through a demo or a proof-of-concept exercise. This assumes significance in an environment where feature parity is a challenge. Keeping the demos smooth and earning a wow outcome vests with the solution consultant (SC) or solution architect (SOLA). A well-done demo will be the deal clincher if pricing does not go out of whack.
To get there, though, you need to first deliver a professional proposal, capturing the reader’s attention with just the right level of information without going too deep and making it too complex to fathom. Presenting any unique values in the written document with substantiation will lend it weight that cannot be ignored.
This is where the pursuit manager (bid/proposal manager) can make a difference. This person must have a clear understanding of what it takes to win which, of course, will vary from opportunity to opportunity.
Conceptualising Solution Strategy
He (or she) can work with the sales/presales leads to define a win strategy and then execute it with precision. The pursuit manager will collaborate with the sales lead, SC/SOLA and the Project Manager (PM) in delivering a high-impact proposal that goes beyond the ordinary.
If you can build a solution storyboard session into the list of activities to be adhered to during a pursuit process that will lend crucial value to bid planning.
Storyboards are a great way to get teams to invest time in conceptualising a solution strategy early in the game. They can help eliminate any solution ambiguities that can hold up hardware sizing, project planning / scheduling and pricing.
It is no exaggeration to state that storyboards are among best practices in proposal development. The bid manager will drive it but inputs from the SC/SOLA will determine the right solution strategy. Different solution options can be presented to the prospect but the team must not hesitate to highlight their preferred approach.
A recent review of proposal trends with a group of independent consultants revealed that Requests for Proposals (RFPs) in North America and Europe have begun to focus on problem solving than on solution features.
This is a logical move forward as businesses will want to understand how a bidder can solve their problems and not just what your product does.
Under the circumstances, use cases and scenario-based responses gain credence and acceptability. Real-life examples that can be effectively demonstrated live make evaluation easy for prospective customers.
Asia is typically a laggard in any facet of development but businesses in the region can be expected to embrace the trend at some stage.
Technical wizardry is hardly necessary for developing win themes though it is not a handicap. What you need more is the ability to emphasise verifiable benefits of your solution for the customer and demonstrate, with proof, why it is better than that offered by competition.
G Joslin Vethakumar