Why Proposals Fail

Excerpts from the book Rainmaker On Proposals

Surprisingly, quite often during our engagements with new clients, we conduct a post-proposal lessons-learned session (sometime referred to as a “hot wash” or “after action discussion”) with our clients to discuss their previous proposals and their success, or lack thereof, in winning public sector/government contracts. During these sessions, a discussion inevitably arises where one or more of the participants in the discussion reveal that they believed that their proposals are/have been deficient in several areas and  missing one or more elements that would have made the proposal more competitive. Not surprisingly, they are generally correct as professionals know when something is not right. .

Back in the mid-1980s, one of our marketing managers, a former professional baseball player who is today a senior consultant with Rainmaker affiliate JohnsonStrategic Sports Marketing, made a statement that is as true today as it was then:

A proposal is like hitting a baseball

The second you hit the ball (e.g., complete/submit the proposal),

you know if you blasted it out of the park.

Picture the home run hitter taking a massive slice at the ball and standing at home plate like a spectator watching the ball sail over the left field wall. He drops the bat and begins his leisurely trot around the bases even before the ball lands in the outfield bleachers. He knew he hit a home run the second the ball left the bat.

When you write and submit a winning proposal, you know it. That is not to say that you will be awarded the contract as a company with similar or greater experience and solutions may underbid you and take the prize. The point is, however, that you know you submitted the most effective and responsive proposal that your firm was capable of creating – you hit it out of the park.

So once again, why do proposals fail? Following are the top five reasons that Rainmaker has encountered over the past several decades:

  • Lack of or Improper Market Intelligence
  • Lack of Experience or Lack of Past Performance
  • Failure to substantiate the claims you have made in the proposal
  • Failure to Demonstrate that Key Personnel meet the technical requirements
  • Failure to address the solicitation requirements

To receive a copy of our recently updated White Paper “Rainmaker on Why Proposals Fail,” send us a note and we will send it to you – [email protected]

This White Paper goes into great detail regarding the likely reasons your proposal or proposals have not been successful.