The Development Source

Put Your Benefits Front and Center in Your Proposals!

Competitive proposals have a balance of features and benefits.  Features are the details of your program, services, or solution.  They answer the big question:  what?

Benefits are oriented around your customer and explain the value of your program, services, or solution.  They answer the big question:  so what?

Too many proposals are strong on features and weak on benefits.  You must put your benefits front and center in your narrative or else reviewers will not understand the value of what you propose to do.  As Gregory W. Pease, a Managing Partner of Tenzing Consulting, points out, there are techniques you can use in proposal development to make your proposals strong on the benefits side.

Here are four techniques that Pease recommends.

Train and communicate benefits

Most proposal efforts begin with a kick-off meeting and a training/orientation session for team members.  Provide training that does the following:

  • Helps team members differentiate between features and benefits.
  • Identifies major benefits.
  • Helps team members identify additional benefits.
  • Provides examples about how you would incorporate benefits into your narrative.

Design benefits into the first draft

Too many proposal efforts begin and end with features.  Identify your benefits at the beginning of the development process and help the team incorporate them into the proposal narrative.  Use your color reviews to add benefits to the narrative.  As you develop your proposal, benefits should become more prominent in your prose.  If they do not, your proposal is not likely to be competitive.

Start with benefits

Answer the So What? question early.  The Executive Summary should emphasize your benefits.  Proposal sections should include the benefit or benefits in the first paragraph.  Use the benefits to organize your prose.

Assign someone to plug the benefits

Too many proposal teams get enveloped in the details and lose sight of the importance of benefits.  On your team, assign someone to help the team incorporate benefits into the proposal.  They should keep incessantly asking two questions: (1) so what?; and (2) how will this benefit the customer?

Think about benefits early and often and incorporate them into your proposal from the kick-off meeting onward.  The result will be a customer-oriented and more competitive proposal.

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