Does a Relationship with the Customer Guarantee a Win?

In our previous proposal writing installments we have stated over and over that building a customer relationship is the key to a successful proposal. Why do we beat this subject to death? Because it is the foundation of almost every deal in the federal market and many companies still don't fully believe it.

Why don't they believe it; because it takes an incredible amount of focus, advanced planning, and money and believing it can be unpleasant to those in a hurry?

Does a relationship with the customer guarantee a win? No it doesn't and like everything in life the strength of a relationship is a matter of degree. A customer relationship is a prerequisite for winning most deals but it isn't a guarantee because:

Your relationship may not be a strong as you would hope.

Competitors may have aggressively pre-sold more than you and you don't know it or you do know it but it is outside your control.

The government may have several solutions in mind and are waiting for the proposals to decide on the best one.

A "customer" can be many people including a number of end users, stake holders and interested parties. A proposal evaluation committee usually has many members and these individuals may have been talking to different vendors.

You probably won't win without a customer relationship but don't assume that the relationship will carry the day. Only the paranoid survive and a defensive posture is the best way to guard against complacency. Many federal deals have gone astray when sales says "this is ours" but the proposal was not defensive and everyone assumed the deal was in the bag.

Assume your competitors are writing an effective, customer-centric proposal and write yours not to lose. This is the essence of defensive proposal writing philosophy and it works.

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