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Writing a Proposal – Developing a Winning Solution

Writing a proposal before development of a great solution is suicide – we live in a solution selling world. Happily, having completed your ‘Requirements Map’ the creation of an overview of your Solution becomes absolutely straightforward. Your process for mapping out a solution will precisely mirror the ‘Requirement Mapping’ process – and the work you’ve already done in needs analysis will pay off in making the solution development process much, much faster. You’ll go from your Requirement Map to a full-blown Solution Map in just four very easy steps – developing a clear picture of your solution to your client’s stated business problems. Step One: Prepare your work area Examine your Requirements Map, counting the number of columns (in our example there are four) and the number of rows (in our example there are seven). Then, on a whiteboard or clear wall area, use those column & row counts to create a blank ‘Solution Map’ like the one shown in Figure 1 below. Figure 1: Solution Map – working area Note that I have given each row and column an alphabetic coordinate – to make it easier to reference each ‘pain’ when discussing them with colleagues or note-taking – e.g. ‘B2’ on my sample ‘Requirements Map’ is ‘No IT Support or Programming’. Step Two: Match a Solution to Each Pain/Requirement Work through your Requirements Map matching the pain in each cell with a potential solution to that pain in the corresponding cell in the empty Solution Map you have just created. Initially, seek out requirements that are quite simply answered by particular features or any well-defined product or service which you are sure you are going... read more

Preparing a Proposal Outline

The proposal outline is an absolutely critical element in creating a winning proposal – here’s how to create one quickly and easily. Before You Rush Into Writing… So you reckon that you’re ready to start writing your proposal? If that’s the case then I’m assuming that you’ve already worked through the module on the ‘Winning Proposal Model’ and have also reviewed the modules on analyzing your client’s requirements and developing a winning solution. Nice going! Two final thoughts before you rush to write: if you’ve come straight here without trying to get a Pre-Proposal Review with your prospect then I’d like once again to strongly advise that you review that module and try to get this done (Module coming soon!) – it will make your understanding of their requirements immeasurably better and ensure that your solution is altogether tighter. You should also have taken time to review the module on developing a proposal strategy – a key thrust for all of the messages you will now write into your proposal. Finally, I would really strongly recommend that you look at how to adapt your language and tone so that your readers will feel more at home with your proposal. If you’ve done all this then you’re ready to start writing. Let’s go! Three Stages in Writing a Business Proposal This module is laid out to reflect the three main stages in taking your proposal from the initial planning stage right through to the point where you are happy that your proposal is ready to present to your client – and it all begins with the proposal outline. Figure 1... read more

TWO ATTITUDES OF GREAT LEADERS

Great business leaders are defined as those who: “… create and maintain a work environment where people are emotionally and intellectually committed to the organization’s goals; build an energetic and positive attitude in others and inspire them to do their very best; and in doing so create a common sense of purpose where people are more inclined to invest extra energy and even some of their own time in their work.” (taken from ‘Leadership Charisma’) Great leadership is all about getting results. No leadership – no results. No results – no leadership. The greatest leaders share two attitudes in common: 1. Great leaders view everything through other’s eyes This is not as cynical as it might sound, but when you strip away all of the niceties, all the layers of ‘proper’ behaviour that define the way we act and interact with others, all the social norms and so on, self-interest tends to inform most of what we do. Before doing anything asked of them, even the most altruistic, at least unconsciously, ask, ‘What’s in it for me?’ (WIIFM?).  And if the answer is ‘nothing’ then they generally don’t do what’s asked unless they’re coerced into it. Great leaders know this – and it informs everything they do. They know that to get people engaged they have to answer the WIIFM question – they have to present everything they require of their people in terms of what’s in it for them. Think of any situation where an individual is considered charismatic or engaging by any group and you’ll see how she or he is, to some extent, giving them what they want... read more

Protected: An Introduction to Mindfulness

Note: this article is a detailed version of the ‘Introduction to Mindfulness’ found in Deiric McCann’s Reflective Practice Assignment entitled ‘The Integration of Mindfulness and Executive Coaching’ completed for the Smurfit Business School’s Diploma in Business and Executive Coaching  The ancient Buddhist tradition of Vipassana meditation has enjoyed extraordinary interest from medical researchers in the Western world over the last 30 year under the label of ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness is generally defined as “paying attention non-judgmentally to what’s happening right now in your experience” (Kryder, Ph.D, 2011, Loc 594 – Kindle Electronic Book). The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to bring the practitioner to a state of present moment mindfulness and non-judgmental awareness of their feelings, emotions, and associated bodily sensations and behaviours – so that they can live more of their time living in the present moment and choose behaviours and feelings that serve them, rather than operating on automatic pilot as a slave to habitual behavioural patterns that have, often unbeknownst to themselves, been developed over their lifetimes. Buddhists extol the virtues of being present, non-judgmental and aware in the same manner as any modern coach would (in fact many modern coaches are perhaps, often unwittingly, de facto Buddhists in their philosophy).  The ancient practice of Vipassana teaches meditators how to manage their emotions by identifying their precursors in their associated bodily sensations and using this early warning mechanism to intervene before damaging emotions can wreak havoc upon the meditator’s moods and emotions. In this regard, good coaching, where the coach deliberately uses her/his self as a coaching tool could be seen to be mindful meditation by proxy. ... read more

COACHING SALESPEOPLE IN A TIGHT ECONOMY

Coaching salespeople is the most direct way for sales leaders to impact sales productivity in a tight economy. Successful salespeople are active sales people.  We all know: more carefully focused activity = more sales.  The fuel that drives this activity in sales people is optimism and positivity – and these are amongst the first things to be affected when the economy tightens or stalls. In this 2-3 post series I’ll share the conversational ‘track’ I use to coach my salespeople to understand and acknowledge what’s going on – and to get focused back upon what’s important: activity.  If you manage sales people then this post is about how to coach them back to activity that will ensure they get on top of the challenges that tight econonies present.  If the only salesperson you coach is yourself then use this approach to keep yourself on track. Tight Economies Hurt Let’s not go all Pollyanna positive – in a tight economy there is no doubt but that fewer people are buying.   Businesses cut back until they have a firm grasp on what’s going on – until they are confident enough that, first, they can afford to spend.   And, second, that anything they spend will get a return on investment in a reasonable period of time.   But the bottom line is that there are fewer deals around. That’s not all – decisions also take longer.   In tight economies some of the client/prospect contacts that had discretionary spending power no longer have the ability to spend (as much) without approval from upstairs.   Spending decisions are made higher up the food chain –... read more

BLAST FROM THE PAST 1: BUSINESS PROPOSAL COURSE

Blast From The Past is something I’ll feature here regularly from now on.  Each ‘blast’ will direct you to one of the most popular posts from my back catalogue – these are the posts that my statistics tell me generated most interest from you, my readers. This first one is a beauty – a FREE course on writing first class business proposals. Enjoy! Faced with writing a business proposal – and dreading it? Don’t worry! I’m going to share my best tips for writing a business proposal, and highlight some great articles and tools that will make your business proposal unbeatable. I’ve been writing proposals for more than 20 years; I’ve written dozens of articles on the topic, and even a bestselling book. Take my FREE Business Proposal Writing Course  and we’ll start by looking at how to analyze a request for proposal or request for information to determine the client’s REAL requirements. After that I’ll walk you, step by step, through a great way of turning that RFP analysis it into a compelling solution to your client’s requirement – the solution the client would design if they could. You’ll start to beat your competition before you write a single word – because I’m also going to show you how to design a business proposal strategy that sets your proposal up to win long before you even power up your PC. We’ll even delve into analyzing the psychology of your prospects to ensure that you use language that will positively influence them. After that preparation we’ll take on the critical next step – we’ll start writing yourWinning business proposal.... read more

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