Q&A – “APBs” of persuasive proposal writing for reluctant writers, enigmatic engineers, and circuitous SMEs

Writers are all too often overwhelmed or unprepared for their proposal writing tasks. Most of us understand the qualities our proposals need to exhibit to score outstanding, but when it comes time to write proposals, the path can get murky.

This webinar explains Julia Quigley’s APB (Approach, Process, Benefits) method to writing proposals that simplifies writing tasks into a repeatable process, emphasizes strengths, and yields text that is easy for evaluators to read and score.

As promised, here are Julia’s responses to questions we ran out of time to address during the webinar Q&A session.

Q. You said we should reorganize requirements, but we’ve often been told that our response should follow the exact same order of the RFP. Which is correct?

A. Both ideas are correct and only sound like they contradict one another. You should absolutely follow the order of the RFP; structure your bid in compliance with the instructions and evaluation criteria and follow the order of the PWS or SOW paragraphs. When I talk about “organizing the requirements,” I’m talking about the organizing the shall statements within a specific SOW or PWS paragraph, not re-arranging the order of the paragraphs.

Q. How do you counter the “this is our customer and they know this stuff; I do not want to insult them…”?

A. First, understand that not all source selection boards are made up entirely of your customer points of contact; they’re often a mix of contracting representatives, independent evaluators, and your customer. Next, remember that your proposal needs to be a defensible winner to both the contracting officer (who won’t presumably “know this stuff”) as well as to outside authorities in case of a protest. In fact, for a customer that is so familiar with you, APB makes your proposal easier to review and score than a proposal that doesn’t go into this much detail.

With APB, evaluators can skim, nearly copy and paste relevant information, and their job is done. They’d have to do a lot more thinking and work to justify you as a winner if you didn’t include that level of detail!

Q. Can you give some information on how many proposals the APB process has been used on and the results?

A. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of information to share. I can tell you that the bids and sections I wrote this way scored outstanding and that writers I’ve introduced this to have found it tremendously useful—using it on bids long after I left the company and sharing it organically with other writers and proposal managers.

That said, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to proposals. A well-written, compliant bid covers just two of the seven quality factors Lisa Pafe identified that double win rates (Click to download Win Rates Double with 7 Quality Measures Research Report). Without strengths based on client insight, even a well-written, compliant proposal could lose.


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Your presenter:

  Julia Quigley has worked on a variety of Federal Health IT task orders and large federal proposals. With a Master’s in Rhetoric and Composition, she has created proposal writing strategies and conducted training to help technical subject matter experts (SMEs) understand how to respond clearly and compellingly to solicitation requirements. Prior to joining Lohfeld Consulting Group, Julia managed proposals for small and mid-sized federal contractors and taught introductory writing and persuasive writing classes at Texas State University. She applies the lessons she taught as well as lessons learned to all her writing and training projects.
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Lohfeld Consulting