Whether defending an incumbency or bidding on a must-win opportunity, you need a sound win strategy to decide what actions you should take in order to win. You also need to communicate clear customer messages to the government, and formulate draft proposal win themes. Our facilitated workshop or series of workshops help you determine customer hot buttons, turn them into messages and win themes, and create a list of prioritized actions that lead you to winning the bid.
Conducting a Win Strategy Workshop Should Be One of the First Steps in Your Capture Effort
We will facilitate brainstorming sessions with your Subject Matter Experts (SME) that start with defining every aspect of what the customer ultimately desires, whether you have it or not. Then, we will help you come up with the assessment of where you are, figure out gaps between your solution’s features and your customer’s ultimate desires, and develop action items to get there.
A win themes and strategy brainstorming session is one of the best capture investments you can make. As far as the importance of capture steps goes, it is second only to meetings with the customer. Not holding a win themes brainstorming session is one of the main reasons for capture failure.
Win strategy brainstorming needs to happen as early in the bid process as possible because completing strategic action items takes time. It’s not the brainstorming that requires much time, it is the time between assigning the action items and updating your win themes to reflect what you have done that’s vital to your capture.
Our Win Strategy Workshops are generally a one- to two-day session that can be split into half-day or shorter segments, if needed.
We start the Win Strategy Workshop with Just-In-Time training on OST’s methodology for win strategy development, then brainstorm on customer’s hot buttons and develop key win theme elements that include features, benefits, and proof. Along the way, we develop a list of prioritized strategic action items that position you for a win prior to issuance of the RFP.
As a result of this workshop, you will get detailed notes useful for win themes development and an action plan to assign to specific members of your team. We can also work with your SMEs to develop detailed win themes that will serve as customer messages during capture, and strength statements in your proposal.
What Is Win Strategy?
Win Strategy is a practical action plan that enables you to outdo your competition at every step of the way. It shapes your offering, prioritizes your actions to position yourself to win, and creates a positive image of you in the eyes of your government customer. A solid win strategy guides your team’s preparation so that winning is a high-likelihood outcome once a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued. Actions may include finding the right Program Manager, signing up the right teaming partner, opening an office in another country, making a capital investment, or even winning another contract to position yourself for the upcoming bid.
What Are Win Themes?
Win Themes are messages and reasons your customer should select you for a contract, and not your competition. They are delivered to your customer during capture and make your proposal compelling. Evaluators count them as strengths and cut-and-paste them into their source selection justification documents.
Win themes are important for your customer in a specific point in time, now or later. The best win themes are customized to you and your bid and are not reusable across proposals.
Win themes fall into four general categories:
- Discriminators or Differentiators: Unique strengths that nobody, or nearly nobody, has. They must matter to the customer now or in the future.
- Common Themes Based on Strengths: Advantages that you have in common with your competitors. They must be presented in a unique light to be compelling to the customer. Proof is the most important element here.
- Turnarounds: Win themes that are based on having negative performance and require you to own up to mistakes while shifting the message to your advantage. You turn poor performance into “valuable lessons learned.”
- Ghosting: Win themes that are based on exploiting your competition’s weaknesses and poor past performance. You exploit the competitors’ shortfalls without naming directly who has been having those problems, while you showcase yourself in a positive light by contrast.
Developing win themes is a capture task because the process highlights gaps in customer understanding, capability, and/or past performance. The action items that result from a great win themes development process can take a long time to complete. Many companies leave themselves at a disadvantage by starting the process late, during the proposal. They end up with an uninspired, general list of win themes that look something like this:
- We are the best value, lowest price provider
- We have CMMI Level 3 (or ISO, or some other credential that many other companies have)
- We understand you very well
- We have excellent past performance (or we are the incumbent)
- We have a well-rounded team
- We are uniquely qualified or positioned
Our Win Strategy Development Workshop will help you develop highly tailored, customer-focused win themes that look nothing like the all-too-common statements above. You will differentiate your company and your solutions so you stand out from the rest of the bidders. Win Themes organize your team around a central message, focus your proposal effort, and make your proposal memorable to the evaluators, compelling them to select you as the winner.
How Win Themes Relate to Win Strategies?
Typically, a company would prioritize developing a capture win strategy over win themes. Win themes are an afterthought and often considered a pre-proposal or even proposal activity. Companies do it because their instinct is to move from general (strategy) to specific (a statement encapsulating the results of implementing this strategy).
OST, on the other hand, has developed a methodology honed over the course of more than 200 successful workshops that start with the themes and back into a winning strategy. This counterintuitive, reverse methodology speeds up the entire process, makes it more specific, and produces tangible products—a Win Strategy White Paper and prioritized Strategic Action Plans. These products will guide your capture effort. We will start with documenting what the customer wants, and then figure out how to deliver it in the proposal.
The Win Strategy White Paper that aggregates all your win themes is indispensable in proposal preparation. It contains strength statements that will add sizzle to your proposal and make it unique even when it’s hard to differentiate yourself from competitors. It tells a more cohesive and persuasive story because the process of developing Win Strategy and Win Themes is simultaneous.
Who Should Attend the Workshop?
You should plan to invite your business development personnel with customer knowledge, SMEs in your pursuit subject, possibly your exclusive teaming partners, and any other people who know this opportunity and customer. As this is a live Win Strategy Development Workshop and a training opportunity, you may invite anyone else in the organization who could benefit from the training and apply this knowledge on your future pursuits.
Additional Just-In-Time Training/Workshop Options
Often our Win Strategy Workshop attendees end up developing the overall Solution for proposal and the Concept of Operations (CONOPS). We can also run a separate Solution Development Workshop for you as we have mature methodologies to guide that process. Additionally, if you are conducting your workshops close to the expected RFP release or have a Draft RFP, your team may benefit from our Writing Persuasive Government Proposals class. This course focuses on compliant and fast writing and persuasion.
We can combine the right types of training and hands-on workshop modules for an experience customized for your pursuit.