Rainmaker Hates Poor Writing

Rainmaker Really Hates Poor Writing!

Writing … If it’s important, it’s Rainmaker™

 While limited, if any, studies have been conducted to determine what government contracting officers and proposal evaluators think of the professionalism and effectiveness of proposal writing amongst government contractors, numerous professional studies and analyses have been conducted regarding what judges think of the way attorneys write … and the conclusions will likely surprise most business owners and proposal professionals.

To more fully understand Rainmaker’s methodology in determining what to write and what not to write in a proposal, and perhaps more importantly, how to write it, it is imperative to understand that the summaries and briefs submitted by an attorney are by and large similar, if not identical, to those submitted by a contractor in response to a Request for Proposal (RFP).

A Legal Brief IS a Proposal

What is a legal brief? A legal brief is a written legal argument that is presented to a court to aid it in reaching a conclusion on the legal issues involved in the case (Encyclopedia Brittanica.)

Similarly, a proposal in response to an RFP is a written business argument that is presented to an evaluator (a judge) to aid it in reaching a conclusion on the business, technical, legal, and/or operational issues involved in the delivery of a solution, service, or product to be purchased by the government or a commercial entity.

A Judge Judges – an Evaluator Evaluates – They are the Same

The standardized definition of Evaluation supports this claim:

  • The making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something – The Oxford Dictionary
  • The process of judging or calculating the quality, importance, amount, or value of something – Cambridge Dictionary
  • Determining [judging] the value, nature, character, or quality of something or someone – Merrian-Webster Dictionary.

So, if a legal brief is a proposal and the evaluator of that proposal is a judge, it is quite fair to use the studies and analysis of the legal profession and the myriad of surveys and studies on what judges think of the way attorneys/lawyers write to determine and analyze what is wrong with a majority of proposals submitted by government contractors.

To this end, Rainmaker makes the following 10 conclusions:

  1. Unsupported statements are inadequate – proposal writers need to tell evaluators explicitly how their proposal supports their position instead of hoping the evaluator will figure it out for themselves
  2. Proposal writers appear to write to please their superiors and teaming partners (and clients if the writer is a consultant) more than evaluators – too much of a proposal is devoted to issues that are not in substantial dispute and there is too much emphasis on points in which the evaluator is unlikely to base its decision
  3. Evaluators feel tremendous time pressure when called upon to read proposals – perhaps as a result of this pressure, evaluators prefer “tried and true” organizational formats including summaries of or “roadmaps” to arguments and the selection of fewer, strong arguments arranged in their order of importance
  4. Evaluators read hundreds of pages a day and do not have time for rambling narratives that are poorly organized – if a proposal writer takes ten pages to say what the evaluator perceives could have been argued in four, there is a significant risk of annoying or losing the attention and focus of the evaluator
  5. Color Team reviews are personal and most company’s color teams are inherently ineffective as reviewers are hesitant to call out or insult their associates for poor writing and content – outside, competent, peer review is mandatory
  6. In addition to the content written, proposals need to look professional …and evaluators value equal to the content the excellence, or failure, in the style, tone, and mechanics of the writing
  7. In most proposals, the writer is satisfied simply to identify issues and leave the rigorous research and analysis to the evaluator – this is always a recipe for disaster and reduction in evaluation points
  8. Often important and concise points are lost in a sea of irrelevant muck – is verbosity a synonym for proposal writer?
  9. Frequently analysis is superficial, relying on information that the writer subjectively thinks is helpful without sufficiently recognizing and rebutting contrary readings and without explaining why the information presented is relative to the issues and superior to possible alternatives
  10. Evaluators do not necessarily want more, but they do desperately seek better, analysis and fully supported conclusions

 The Rainmaker White Paper Series includes a detailed analysis of the proof points and analysis summarized in the statements above – click here to view Rainmaker – on Poor Proposal Writing