Green Growth Consulting


Green Growth Consulting

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Vision & Mission

GGC's mission is to assist small and medium size companies in expanding exponentially, establishing a presence in their...

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Case Studies

A catering company, established for more than 10 years, was trying to expand their current service to schools...

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Public Sector

Last year, the public sector invested nearly 236 billion pounds on goods and services, hence this is a great selling opportunity ...

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Private Sector

As a result of tax cuts, most small businesses that relied on these contracts will have to look elsewhere for business.

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How to write an outcome-customer focused proposal

Most requests for proposals (RFPs) and tenders these days are concerned with ‘outcome proposals’.

Many of us could be easily confused by what our clients mean by ‘input’, ‘output’ and ‘outcome’.

In fact most unsuccessful tenders deliver an output proposal: they are task-orientated proposals rather than results-orientated proposals.

It is crucial to explain to our clients what we plan to implement, and how. But to deliver results, a proposal cannot rely only on inputs and outputs. To use an analogy, we all know that we can be very busy doing things, but achieving nothing or very little. That is why most governmental institutions are concerned nowadays with outcome proposals.

As every sector, every institution, every proposal has different inputs, outputs and outcomes, it is very difficult to give an example for each of them, but please take a look at the graph below. We call it a Logic Model (LM). See if you can identify the differences between inputs, outputs and outcomes, and if you can apply your learning to one of your current proposals. To summarise:

  • Inputs: the resources that go into the programme/service
  • Outputs: what is produced through those activities
  • Outcomes: the changes or benefits that result from the programme/service.





As you can see, an outcome could be short, medium or long term. In addition, to measure these outcomes, it is advisable to include a key performance indicator (KPI) in every proposal. Preparing an LM for every proposal or tender is highly recommended. LMs are very good frameworks to increase conversion rates.

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Neutralising your weaknesses in a business proposal

If you have attended some of our webinars or workshops in the past, you know that we have always insisted that, in order to prepare an outstanding and tailored business proposal, a SWOT analysis is a crucial step.

A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved with a project or, in this case, your proposal. It involves specifying the objective of your proposal as well as identifying the internal and external factors that are favourable and unfavourable to winning the contract.

In this article, I would like to explain how to neutralise the weaknesses that you might have identified during your SWOT analysis.

For every proposal or tender you are preparing, even though you believe your strengths are ‘stronger’ than your weaknesses, not paying attention to them or not neutralising them might diminish your chances of winning the contract.

According to J. M. Beveridge in Positioning to Win, there are two types of weaknesses. A weakness may be real or imagined. In order to win, you have to neutralise your prospect’s concerns about those weaknesses.

If a weakness is real, you have to correct it before you neutralise it. For example, if you realise that you don’t have a specific skill required to deliver the contract, you might need to hire someone with those skills or to partner with another company. Do not hide that weakness; just mention in your proposal how you are addressing it.

By ‘imagined weakness’, we mean that the customer perceives an aspect of your company or service as being weak but, in fact, there isn’t one. Be aware that some of you competitors might create an imaginary weakness regarding your services. A supermarket offer is a perfect example. We all know that Waitrose and M&S are considered to be high-quality but expensive shopping stores. Since the beginning of the recession, Tesco and Asda supermarkets have widely advertised their availability to provide cheaper goods. As a consequence, Waitrose and M&S customers have started to shop at the supermarkets they perceive to be cheaper, like Asda (or Walmart in the US) and Lidl. Therefore, Waitrose and M&S profits have suffered and they have lost some of their regular customers. To counter this, they have launched TV campaigns advertising ‘branded’ goods that match competitors’ prices.

That is what we call ‘neutralising’ weaknesses: making sure the customer understands that what might look a weakness is just a perception, not a reality. 

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Auditing your proposals or tenders

One of the greatest frustrations for a company after submitting a proposal or tender is to be rejected, especially if the team has spent hours on it. Nowadays preparing proposals and tenders has become very complex and expensive: businesses spend a lot of time and resources writing them.

Submitting a bid (or proposal) is a strategic business decision. There is a lot of literature on how to assess your chances of winning, and how to rate the likelihood of being chosen as a supplier. Some experts argue that if you think you have no chance of winning, you shouldn’t prepare the application. In my opinion, this approach can be counter-productive. I strongly believe that a ‘to bid or not to bid’ analysis must be done to assess your chances of being successful in a bid. However, there can be other reasons for deciding whether to submit a proposal: one of these could be to find out how you stand out from your competitors.

To reiterate, preparing and submitting a proposal or tender should be a strategic exercise. A team should always reflect on what they are trying to achieve, externally and internally, when preparing tenders.

  • Externally: your team might want to start engaging with your prospect, to be more visible, to analyse the perception of your services perception or to examine the competition.
  • Internally: your team might want to assess their own capabilities and capacity to provide a service, and to improve the level of service they provide.

One of the common mistakes that teams make, after they have spent hours on an application only to be rejected, is to jump onto another task merely hoping to get luckier next time. But it is crucial to spend time on properly auditing a submitted proposal.

The first step, as soon as you have received the ‘no thanks’, is to ask for meaningful and genuine feedback. Encourage your prospect to be frank, even though it might be painful. It will demonstrate a professional, responsible attitude.

Even though some prospects might brush you off with a quick reply to get rid of you, it is important to ask. As you will be auditing your own proposal, you will need to assess if the feedback provided has been genuine. From it, you will be able to draw your own conclusions and consider, for instance, whether you wish to tender for this organisation in the future.

With the hypothesis that the prospect has provided meaningful feedback, their insights and your own analysis will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal. Then you can make decisions about the actions to take.

We all learn from our failures and successes. Every company should have a ‘commitment for continuous improvement’ process in place, and auditing your proposals should be part of this process.

At our webinar ‘We didn’t win; what next?’ on Friday 14th March, we will present the steps a company can follow to self-audit their proposal in order to improve their submission in the future.

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The different benefits of your offer in a proposal

When submitting a tender application or a proposal, it is advisable – even if it is not a requirement – to explain the benefits of your service or products to your prospect. Selling has become very complex: your offer will be assessed by a panel, so your tailored selling document should provide all the information that all the buyers need to make a final group decision.

Describing benefits is, in my opinion, one of the most sensible yet difficult components of a proposal.

Benefits are not features, as we hear frequently. A feature is what your service or product can do (its characteristics); a benefit is what the implementation of your service or product can do for the organisation in general.

Not all benefits are equal, and not all benefits will have equal value to the different buyers evaluating your proposal.

Most proposals focus on the technical benefits of the service provided, which are certainly important but not sufficient. If your proposal can include other benefits, it will stand out from the competition.

I believe there are five types of benefits: technical/operational benefits, strategic benefits, political benefits, financial benefits and cultural benefits.

Technical benefits. These are functional or operational (day-to-day) benefits resulting from the new capabilities measured through the following categories: time, cost, assurance/satisfaction or income. Technical benefits will address any problem in the infrastructure. It can be a quality management system that needs improvement, a compliance issue, for example, or even a labour-intensive process.

Strategic benefits. These are advantages linked to the organisation's business strategy or corporate plan. Strategic benefits will determine where the organisation will be in the mid-term. Strategic benefits can include competitive advantage, market share and growth, to name just a few.

Political benefits. Organisations are both arenas for internal politics and political agents with their own agendas, resources and strategies. As such, they compete internally and externally for survival. Therefore political benefits can include anything related to stakeholders, the board of directors, personal agendas, recognition of the company and prestige, but also unions and succession planning.

Financial benefits. This usually refers to the ROI (return on investment) that your offer will generate in monetary terms. These could include cost reductions, productivity and revenue gain. These can be the most simple benefits to understand, but they might also be among the most difficult to calculate.

Cultural benefits. Cultural benefits could include employee morale, innovation, teamwork and flexibility.

Not all proposals can cover the five benefits detailed above. Nevertheless, your team should reflect on them and describe them in their written proposal. Don’t assume your prospect will make the link between your offering’s features and the benefits for their organisation; they don’t usually do this very well.

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Maximise your chances of finding opportunities

If you and your team have worked on a yearly plan for 2014, you will certainly have looked at how to increase your sales, either by acquiring new business or by improving margins on your current portfolio.

I believe that, if a company wants to survive, it needs to look regularly for new business. You cannot rely just on your current customer portfolio, even though you might have a very profitable and loyal one.

In today’s world, competition is getting stronger and stronger. Marketing has become extremely sophisticated, and there are thousands of marketing strategies that a business can implement to increase its sales. The fact that marketing books are now very popular demonstrates this.

While every business should have a strategic marketing plan, every business is different. What works for one business may not work for another, even though both operate in the same sector. In addition, we cannot use the same marketing strategy for every customer target.

I strongly believe that, if you wish to make your strategic marketing plan work effectively, you should:

1.Choose only a few strategies – maybe one or two new ones. Having a busy plan with several tactics will only confuse your team, and will overload them with so many things to do. The key is to choose only a few strategies and do them well, regularly and consistently.

For example, if you think that networking within a specific trade or industry could be good for your company, make sure you pin all events in your agenda for the coming year. Do your homework before going to see who you would like to talk to, and think about what you would like to say briefly to attract interest.

2.Master the chosen strategy, learn more about the down side and improve it continuously. You will need to become an expert on that specific strategy; you cannot just rely on doing things and hoping for the best. You might need to read books (about networking, using LinkedIn and so on), attend workshops or other events. As mentioned before, marketing is becoming very sophisticated, so details can make a huge difference. Just ensure that you do not over process it: simplicity is sometimes the best solution. It is all about balance.


3.Implement a clear process, so it can run with little supervision. The worst thing that can happen is that, after a few weeks of intense work, an unforeseen circumstance means you miss a milestone and your reputation goes downhill.


4.Implement targets and milestones. Ensure that you know where you are going and perform small checks on the way.


5.Measure your marketing strategy. You can only improve something if you can measure it.

For example, if you decide to contact x people, count how many seem interested, how many you have a meeting with and so on. You can implement different measures of success; just choose an appropriate one then, with time, you can see what the numbers tell you.


6.Reassess and adjust your plan and every tactic. Nothing is perfect at the beginning, so make a start and adjust accordingly on the way.

Some marketing strategies will be easy to implement but might not help you to get sustainable and regular business. Others will require more work and effort but will provide a more viable source of income. Always have a mix of both.


At our webinar ‘Finding opportunities’, we will review some of the most common strategies and tactics for finding work in the private (corporate) sector and public (government) sector. So you can choose the ones you wish to implement this year. Register here. 

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Plan 2014 to get more contracts

Most companies fail to reach their goal, either because they don’t have a specific sales plan – one that is measurable and tangible – or because they overstretch themselves. Small but consistent steps, rather than sophisticated and ambitious strategies, are more likely to help you to accomplish your goal.


December and early January are good months to assess how the past year has been and to prepare for the year to come. You need a written plan to help you with this. Your sales plan doesn’t need to be lengthy or complicated, but it definitively needs to be clear and measurable.


If you wish to get somewhere, you need to know where you are and where you want to be. Your sales plan will be your roadmap.


It is crucial to assess the resources – time, budget, people – that you will have during the year to achieve your outcome. If you hike, like me, you know that everyone has a different pace. No one can walk 20 miles an hour, but you might be able to walk 2 miles an hour. If that is the only thing you can do, just take it into account and plan your journey accordingly. In sales terminology, plan your monthly or quarterly target and therefore your tactics.

You can implement different strategies or tactics to achieve your goal. But anything you implement needs to be tested and measured. Some of your strategies will provide short-term results, usually with small profits; other tactics, which could take up more of your time and energy, might provide mid- to long-term results but, on the other hand, could be more lucrative and sustainable. Mid- to long-term strategies that provide sustainable results need better planning and consistency.

Measuring and testing your strategies are crucial, as not all your actions will get the same results or quality of outcome. A good yearly plan needs to have a good balance of short-term, mid-term and long-term lead generation strategies to be sustainable.


Be prepared. Things might get in your way, but that’s life. So do not overload yourself. Reflecting on what you have done is as important as planning. Make sure you plan some time (monthly, quarterly) to assess how you are doing, and correct any actions that need to be addressed.


‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’


At our webinar on 10 January, we will share with you a simple methodology to prepare a successful and sustainable yearly sales plan. 

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Presentations to prospective clients: Are you making a great lasting impression?

When I used to work in procurement, and we invited shortlisted suppliers to give a presentation as part of their tender application, I was always surprised to see that some companies were completely unprepared for this critical exercise.

In this current economic climate and with competition stronger than ever, not preparing well for a proposal or tender presentation is a recipe for disaster.

Throughout my experience, I have found there are three mistakes that are most commonly made by suppliers during a presentation to buyers.

  1. 1.Taking up all the allocated time to give a marketing presentation about their company, team and products or services.

While information about who you are, the services your company provides and your company credentials should be included in your presentation, it shouldn’t take more than 10% of the time allowed for your presentation.

  1. 2.Repeating word for word what their offer includes or, even worse, reading directly from their proposal and overloading the presentation with a mass of detailed material.

Remember: your prospect has already read your proposal or tender application.

  1. 3.Bringing the whole team to the presentation but having only the leader talking.

Everyone present at the meeting should introduce themselves and have something to say about the offer.

When buyers invite suppliers to give a presentation about their offer, they want to clarify issues and ensure they choose the right team to work with them.

Making a ‘good’ impact goes beyond making a sales pitch or simply stating that you have the cheaper product or service.

You don’t need to be a professional speaker or a sales expert to make a good and lasting impression. If you are, it is definitely an asset. But content is as important as delivery. Structure your presentation well, allocate time to the team to intervene, deliver the key messages and provide straight answers to buyers’ questions. These are key for a successful presentation to clients.

On Friday 6 December, we are holding a webinar on how to shine when giving your presentation to clients. We will cover what we mean by preparation, who should be present, what you should consider, Q&A and much more… Sign up here. 

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Are you addressing your proposal to all decision makers?

dmOne of the biggest mistakes that companies make when they prepare their business proposal or tender is not to direct the sales document – a proposal is a tailored sales document – to all decision makers or buyers.

When a corporation or institution asks for a written proposal (a tender application), they aim to assess all proposals fairly and objectively and to ensure they fit all requirements. The proposal or tender application won’t be read by just one person or department, because your solution or service will have an impact on other teams or products inside the institution.


The decision to choose a supplier is made by a team, a team composed of people with different agendas, different expectations and different concerns.


If you liaise, which is usually the case, with only one contact in the organisation, you might risk underestimating the full requirements (or concerns) of the decision committee members.


There are, in fact, four types of buyers or decision makers who might be involved in a buying agreement:

  • The operational buyer
  • The specialised buyer
  • The economical buyer
  • The champion buyer


The ‘buyer’ can be a group of people, or just one person who embodies more than one buyer profile. Each of these buyers has different expectations and concerns, and these are obstacles that need to be addressed and overcome in your written proposal.


For example, an operational buyer is interested in knowing how your service or product will impact their job, their team etc. This type of buyer wants to know if your solution will make life easier.


A specialised buyer looks at the specification of your solution, and checks if your solution meets the required standards and criteria.


The economical buyer is concerned with the bottom line and the return on investment that your solution might bring. This buyer also wants to make sure that the operational buyer and specialised buyer believe your solution will work. The economical buyer knows very well that the operational buyer and specialised buyer will be in charge of implementation, and can make it a success or a failure. So it is a huge mistake to think that you are guaranteed to win the contract just because you are in contact with the economical buyer.


If you don’t address your proposal or tender application to all decision makers, if it doesn’t address the needs of all buyers, your chances of winning the contract diminish.


We are holding a FREE webinar on the four different types of buyers on Friday 18 October 2013. Join us to hear more about the different types of buyers, and how you can address their requirements every time you write a proposal.

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Tips on How to Create a Winning Letter Proposal

It is very important for a letter proposal to be effective so that it can make the desired impact. To help you draft an impressive and effective letter proposal given below are some valuable tips:

Choose the Right Tone

Stay away from a pompous tone when drafting a business proposal. Letters that are too stuffy often find it difficult to leave a strong impression on the reader. The tone gets to decide a lot because if it is not correct the receiver may not even read the whole letter. A simple tone is better as it will be easy to understand and grasp the meaning of the proposal. Plus, simple words also flow in a smooth pattern. One should avoid inflated language and long sentences. The customer should be referred to as ‘you’ or through his or her name instead of pronouns like ‘it’.


Be Careful Of the Language

If you are seeking help from your legal department in conjuring up your proposal letter, you should ensure that they do not use complex or law terms in the letter as they may be difficult for an ordinary person to understand. Use of legal jargon or law terms may make the letter seem professional and strong from a legal point of view, but the main aim would be lost as the receiver may not even read a letter written in such a manner. If you must include such information try to use as simple language as possible or exclude such points from the letter altogether and attach a different paper with the terms and conditions.


Avoid Clichés

One of the biggest problems with letter proposals is the clichéd factor that gives the ‘been there-seen that’ feeling to the reader. Many people often use the beaten to death opening and closures that the receiver has seen a hundred times already and has no interest in repeating it. Letters that start with sentences like “I would like to take this opportunity to…” are bland and boring. If you cannot think of a creative opening, there’s no need to have one. Simply get to the point!


Close On a Strong Note

It is very important to close on a strong note so that you can get the desired action out of the reader. Using a clichéd sentence such as “get back to me…” can do damage because it gives the feeling that you did not put enough hard work in drafting the letter. Instead of giving the power into the hand of the customer by telling him or her to reach you, you should ask for a date so that you look enthusiastic and ready to change your perspective client into an actual client.


Your closure should show confidence in yourself, your business and your product. It should push the seller to give into your demands. Expressions like “I hope to…” should also be avoided as they do not give a very strong message to the reader.

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Public Procurement Can Make a Difference

John Tizard, a procurement specialist, discusses the expected changes due to public procurement. He says that procurement should demonstrate its donation to an organization’s wider goals. He is of the idea that procurement should not only revolve around buying services and products, but should cover more than that. Fortunately, many organizations have realized this and are giving more importance to the procurement process. However, more has to be done.


Some instances of public procurement delivering outcomes and outputs including:

  • The living earnings all through the supply chain (SC)
  • Supplier internship programmes
  • Environmental and sustainability goals
  • Good employment conditions/terms across the SC, including global suppliers


Imaginative procurement can support local suppliers and local environment even within any legal constraints. Some excellent examples of procurement processes included affianced supplier relationships in order to facilitate and encourage SMEs and the community sector in order to successfully bid or vie for contracts.


Tizard was a part of the judge’s panel for Government Opportunities (GO) National Public Procurement Awards 2013/14. He discussed the entries he received including some that were good examples of public procurement used as a driver to support cross-sector association in order to maximize outcomes and value. Such collaboration can help deliver services in a better way.

Procurement is a major way of implementing strategic decisions but there’s a need to have stronger partnership between procurers and commissioners.

Everyone from communities to the service user to staff should take part in procurement at some point.  Fortunately, this thing is being practiced in several organizations and was seen in many of the entries posted for the award.


Tizard is said to be impressed by teams that had trained, supported and also engaged advocates (where necessary) to support others including different users. He believes that more companies need to welcome such an approach.


Direct Payments and personalisation could reshape swathes of public procurement. Procurement managers are already working on developing roles that facilitate and support users by empowering them.


In order to be successful procurement teams have to continuously grow by embracing technology, supporting new, robust yet affordable systems, teaming, partnering or merging with others in and outside their own company, adopting frameworks and a lot more.


The profession has to demonstrate what its expectations are from others so that there are no compliance issues. Plus, one should be willing to be involved with colleagues and suppliers as listening and dialogue are essential. If handled correctly public procurement can make a huge difference.

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The Issues with Measuring Savings

Kairos Commodities CEO, SorenVammen discusses some critical issues with measuring performance. Most firms measure their savings by comparing their average cost figures of the current year and last year or they might compare their realised costs with their budgeted costs. However, it has been observed that many companies measure their performance against market performance. In other words, they resort to cost avoidance.


This can create a problem as organizational behaviour is strongly driven by performance measurement whereas savings measurement depicts only a partial picture.


For instance, if the company purchases a commodity on contract with variable pricing terms, the price will vary all year round. For example, the price of a commodity is 100 at the start of the year, moves to 150 during the year and then falls back to 100 at year end. This will result in an average price of 125.


In contrast to that, a firm enters into a year-long purchase contract on fixed-price terms and the market price decreases steadily, bringing that price from 100 to 60 at the end of the year.


If both scenarios are taken into account, the comparison of costs of the current and previous year will favour the fixed-price contract as a 20% savings is visible. This shows that the performance of the firm has been good.


However, when performance is compared against market development, it can be seen that the fixed-price contract was not a very good option as the market price decreased within the year. The company had to pay 25% more than the market price due to the fixed-price contract.


Today, firms are giving more importance to meeting the objectives of budget accuracy, instead of focusing on enhanced cost competitiveness. The simple reason for this is that the finance departments of firms have been empowered with enough authority for them to have an independent or one-sided perception of risk. The finance department focuses mainly on budget accuracy and ignores or gives less importance to the risk of increasing commodity prices.


The firms also have a significant amount of exposure to the need for commodities to enable them to apply specific strategies. These strategies should include all the relevant possibilities of enhancing cost competitiveness in markets that are trending downwards.


The example above clearly indicates the need for CPOs to have a dialogue with their senior management regarding the method of measuring performance.

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Use Marketing Intelligence to Make a Winning Proposal

The importance of marketing intelligence cannot be underestimated. You cannot ignore this while making a business proposal. In layman terms, marketing intelligence is the information pertaining to a firm’s market. It defines and describes its customers, its external environment and the industry as a whole.


The information that is gathered is analyzed and archived in order to assist the marketers in determining the market opportunity, the market penetration strategy and the metrics of market development. This information is used with business intelligence to complete the picture that depicts the current corporate performance of the firm in a group of specified market conditions.


It is important for companies to take into consideration the marketing intelligence available to them while preparing the proposal. This will allow firms to create a winning proposal that is based on current market and customer knowledge. The use of marketing intelligence will also increase the chances of success.


The marketing information should be analyzed and organized so that it can easily be retrieved for use. It is necessary to infuse marketing intelligence in certain critical steps of the proposal response lifecycle. The information must first be included in the pre-kickoff activities, when the proposal is in the design phase. In this phase, all the relevant information is mostly gathered together and judged on how it could be used to draft a proposal.


The marketing intelligence should also be infused in the kickoff meetings. When the proposal plans are being discussed, it is important to take into account all the necessary and available marketing information. For instance, if you know how your competitor is persuading the client and whether he is successful or not, you can create your own strategies based on that information as well as your personal judgment.


The last step, when it is important to consider marketing information, is during the formal review process. This is when the proposal has been completed and is being reviewed by the company’s managers. While the good and bad points of the proposal are being highlighted and the proposal is being rated, the marketing information can be vital to clearly analyze and evaluate the proposal.


Thus, marketing intelligence is a significant part of the proposal response cycle. It should be given its due importance while the proposal is in the developmental phase in order to create a proposal that is more workable and stands out among other proposals.

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Tendering: How to Effectively Write the Benefits Section

One of the most important parts of a typical proposal is the benefits section. It is important to explain the benefits in a tone relevant to other parts of the proposal. Instead of going deep into costs one should explore and explain benefits in detail because this is the section that mainly motivates the receiver.



There are four important types of benefits. These are:

  • Baseline Logic Benefits
  • Hot Button Benefits
  • Themes Benefits
  • Individual Buyer’s Benefits


Benefits should be well spread throughout the proposal. However, they should not only be spread because benefits can be used as a powerful conclusion to your proposal and give the right message to your readers. They can be very nicely integrated into other slots of the proposal.


Benefits can be explained or summarized in the final paragraph. In such a case your proposal should begin with a small introduction of your company or its situation and then end on the benefits the reader or the company as a whole (depending on the type of proposal) will receive at the end of the achievement of the proposal.


It should be mentioned that readers are generally interested in their own benefits; hence, this portion should be written in such a way as to inspire the reader and show them a green passage.



Benefits can be easily put into different categories for better understanding. These are:

  • Benefits that Accrue During the Tenure of the Project
  • Benefits That Accrue Before the Completion of the Project
  • Benefits That Accrue Subsequent To The Project


There are several benefits. These include:

Benefits imply value and are the dearest to the reader or potential client. The client would only be interested in a proposal if he or she finds something valuable in them. Understandably, there is no point in pursuing something that does not add any value to anything.


Benefits when explained can be real or imagined. They are one of the most important factors in the decision making process and should be handled with care. The proposal should explain in-depth what the individual or organization would enjoy out of accepting the proposal.


The benefit of writing good benefits is mainly that the chances of a proposal getting approved are increased because this is the main crux of the whole proposal and should be nicely put in.

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Improvements Required in Supply Chain Governance

The author, Alan Braithwaite, in his article, discusses the issues related to supply chain governance. The recent horse meat scandal gave food for thought to many procurement functions as to the legitimacy and honesty of suppliers in the supply chain.


The story behind the horse meat scandal was that many well-known and reputable firms were selling food items that contained traces of horse beef in it. This led to an uproar among people as they were being fed something very different to what was mentioned on the packaging. The root of the issue, according to many firms, were the members of the supply chain who substituted products fraudulently in order to make huge profits.


The rising inflation and costs have witnessed substitution and adulteration of genuine products with fraudulent, low cost and low quality products. High margin and high value goods are a temptation for many criminals that are a part of the supply chain. They usually substitute such goods with their low cost generic counterparts but sell it at the same high price. This allows them to make greater profits along the supply chain.


There are many other categories of products besides food items that are facing substitutions and adulteration. Categories like luxury goods, pharmaceuticals, car parts, aerospace components and other high margin sectors are facing the same issue. This means that the products that are dispatched from the firm do not reach the retailers in their original form. They are tampered with or changed. The same thing happens in case of raw materials. The items ordered are different from the ones that reach the manufacturing facility to be processed.


A recent research revealed that many firms were ignorant when it came to supply chain management and were not conducting any form of quality assurance or supervision over their supply chain. For firms, it is extremely important to monitor their suppliers as well as their distributors. This must be done in order to ensure that neither the raw materials nor the finished goods are of a different quality than what is mentioned on the product.


In case of own label products, retailers are responsible for monitoring the supply chain and in case of branded goods, brand leaders should ensure that the supply chain is not tampering with their products.


It is important for the procurement functions to be proactive. They should not compromise on quality or ignore the potential risk in order to purchase low cost goods. In most cases, it is evident that companies did not pay attention to what was happening in the supply chain and were oblivious to the non-conformance of suppliers.


Therefore, to avoid brand damage and maintain the reputation of their firm, companies should pay attention to their suppliers and retailers and ensure that appropriate supply chain governance is being practiced throughout the supply chain.

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How to Draft a Winning Proposal

Losing is bad from almost every perspective. It results in a loss of several things including time and money. Plus, losing also often takes the motivation away leaving people demoralized. Winning is not easy because only a few can win and those few are usually the best at what they do.


This also applies in proposals. The winning proposal wins because it is able to convince customers. The idea that the customer wasn’t the right one does not apply when you fail. The loss is mainly due to your failure to write the right kind of proposal and the right option is not to sulk but to learn from your mistakes and prepare a better proposal in your second attempt.


The proposal should be superior not only in your eyes but also in the eyes of the customer. The main aim of a proposal is to convince your customer that you are the best option for a particular job. Many a times you might know how to do the job better than others but it is of no use unless you can write it down in your proposal in a convincing manner. At the end of the day your customers will decide based on what is mentioned in the proposals; in most cases other things are secondary.


A proposal should be responsive in a way that it answers every question that the reader might have in regards to the business. Only a team that is committed to its work can prepare such a convincing proposal.


A proposal should clearly highlight benefits. There is no point in keeping these under wraps as benefits are usually what a customer is mostly interested in. Emphasizing on wrong points such as the company’s background or cost may be wrong. Many experts believe that emphasizing too much on cost (unless it is a benefit such as discount or low cost) can have a negative impact and the reader may feel that the business is too much inclined towards profit.


Additionally, benefits should be mentioned from the reader’s point of view. They should highlight what the reader will get from the company. Some winning secrets are:

  • Use a superior approach.
  • Clearly mention the benefits.
  • Use argumentation highlights to emphasize on special points.
  • Clearly highlight strengths and also weaknesses preferably in the beginning of each chapter.
  • Answer every question that the reader may have (both stated and implied)
  • Be totally honest and avoid making false claims.
  • Authenticate every claim you make.


A proposal should begin with the leaders (proposal leader and proposal specialist). It is important to select the right person as the proposal leader so that decisions are taken carefully and in the right manner. The proposal leader should be well aware of the industry including the changing trends, the competitors and the organization itself so that he can call the shots without putting anything on the line.


Some qualities of a good proposal leader are:

  • Disciplined
  • Good Communicator
  • Flexible
  • Punctual
  • Controlling yet Delegating
  • Foresight
  • Knowledge

On Friday 12th July, we will hold a FREE Webinar entitled 'Write a Winning Proposal Every Time' . Please register here.


Christina Murias, Green Growth Consulting

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How to Persuade Your Customers when Preparing a Tender

Persuasion is all about motivating a prospective customer into buying. It combines different elements including information and evaluation.

Understandably, information has to be provided for a buyer to be motivated into buying a product. Information can be about the product itself including its cost and benefits. The emphasis is generally on benefits as these are the main motivating factor in this case. Plus, the information may also be about the organization, especially if it is offering a service and not a product. The information should highlight the goodness of what is being offered and their advantages the user will have in case he or she accepts the proposal.


Information should always be provided in clear and simple to understand words. Plus, it should be true and based on facts. Misleading information can cause serious problems and should be avoided at all costs.


On the other hand information is not the only thing that is required. At times one has to present opinions and estimates that should be based on the present facts. Nonetheless, the main thing is that the words we write should leave a mark and influence the readers.


Persuasion basically consists of four main steps. These are:

The Customer’s Needs

The first thing is to understand what your customers want and then presenting information keeping their needs in mind. Every word should look tailor made to the reader so that he or she finds the offer relevant to their needs.

In most cases customers already know their needs. Still, you have to make this portion useable by posting information related to your offer.



Here the concentration is mainly on the desired outcomes. The emphasis here is on success and how it will be achieved. Since the main aim is to create a sense of urgency, this portion has to be written very wisely.

Yet, motivation does not necessarily come from needs. Every business has several needs and issues but it does not always look for solutions. In this the decision maker has to be convinced that the problem needs a solution.


Recommend a Solution

Once the decision maker has been convinced about needing a solution it is time to present an option in a way that it looks the best possible option. A proposal that only describes a product by mentioning facts without actually recommending a solution is often worthless.

A recommendation should be made in solid words so that the reader knows your firm belief in the recommendation you are making. Phrases like “we are sure…” or “we are very confident….” are considered good as they give the reader the idea that you know what you are talking about.


Prove Your Capability

Here you have to provide evidence that you have it in you to do what you’ve mentioned above. This can be done by mentioning successful projects or third party references. Guarantees, project plans and portfolios of team members may also be used for this purpose.


This information should also only contain honest words written in a way that they leave the reader impressed.

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Why businesses struggle to find tenders opportunities in the Public and Private Sector

Most businesses that want to work with corporations or the public sector don’t know where to find those opportunities or they rely on only a few public, government portals.

In fact, private corporations rarely advertise their opportunities on websites and, in the public sector, only 20% of contracts are advertised on the main government portals.

Public sector procurement is a regulated market, so public sector organisations need to follow strict rules when advertising their opportunities. Usually, though, it’s only contracts over a certain value that have to follow this process.

Some institutions will have ‘accredited supplier lists’ or ‘preferred supplier lisst’ where they can top-in when they need a specific service. But what can you do to ensure to be part of these lists or make sure they will contact you when they will need your service?

So what happens with corporate procurement opportunities and the other 80% of public contracts? The answer lies in asking not ‘How do we find them?’ but ‘How do they find us?’


Visibility is crucial. If they don’t know you exist, they can’t contact you or invite you to bid for their opportunities.

Even more importantly, corporations and public institutions want to deal with professional organisations, those that have processes and systems in place and always provide excellent customer service.

To be considered for such opportunities, you might think about: belonging to professional bodies and institutions; having a strong website presence, etc…


If you want to work with the corporate or public sector, you will need to build a diverse tender sales pipeline. Today, you can’t rely solely on just one or two sources. Try to diversify, and be consistent. Some strategies will work better in your sector than others. But it’s always better to implement two or three strategies well than ten or more badly.


On the 14 June 2013, we will host a webinar, ‘How to find tender opportunities in the Public and Private Sectors’ in which we will explore others ways to find tenders in the public and private sector. Find out more


Christina Murias, from Green Growth Consulting

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Understanding Your Customer According to the Cicero Principle

For a business to succeed, understanding the customer is the key. Without knowing what your customer wants, you will not be able to win their hearts, their trust or their loyalty with your products. Cicero, a Roman orator and statesman, highlights the issue of persuading the client in a few meaningful words. He said:


“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”


This is excellent advice for all marketers as it teaches them a basic lesson regarding client persuasion. To sell a product or service to a client or to persuade them to buy something from you, you need to first understand what the client really needs. They will not buy your products and services if they do not need them.


The first basic step here is to understand what your client needs. When you determine that, your next step would be to persuade your clients to buy your products/services. These products/services should be a solution to their problem.


An intelligent marketer would try to motivate potential customers by influencing their thinking, their behavior or their attitude in order to influence their purchase decisions. Winning proposals can only be crafted if the marketer is well aware of his/her customers and understands them profoundly. Before writing a proposal, consider three main factors about your target audience:


Think My Thoughts – Personality Type


To influence your customer, you need to understand their personality type. This will help you level with your customer. If you know what your customer thinks, you will be able to approach them in a manner that will influence them.


Customers have different personality types. Your customers may be visionary, pragmatic, detail-oriented, consensus-oriented, etc. You will have to reach out to them in a way that inspires them and makes them understand how you can help them with your product or service.


Speak My Words – Level of Expertise


This is an important aspect of client persuasion. You should align yourself with your customer. If your customer is not comfortable with your language, they will not be easily persuaded. Try to see from their viewpoint and use language that they understand and feel comfortable with. If there is a slight discrepancy in the language you use and the one they understand, they might perceive your product or service in the wrong light. Depending on whether your customer is informed, uninformed, familiar or unfamiliar about your product or service, you will have to reach out to them in the same way so as to make them understand exactly what you are offering them.


Feel My Feelings – Role in Decision Making


An important part of client persuasion is the role of the client in the decision making process. If your client is a gatekeeper, their main job would be to reject proposals that do not comply with company requirements. If your client is a user, they will only see how the product will benefit them.


However, the ultimate decision will be made by the person who will pay for the products/services. You should be able to persuade them and make them see that your offering is worth the money you ask for and is going to benefit them.

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The Evolution of Procurement in the Next 10 Years

An article by Pedro Paulo discusses the transformation of procurement function in the next 10 years. According to him, in the next 10 years, the world economy will remain stable but many established and successful economies will face hardcore competition from the four nations known as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations. These nations are quickly developing economically and may become stronger in the next decade.


The author also states that certain resources, like rare minerals and metals, may become valued, scarce or controversial and access to them could be a source of opportunity as well as of conflict on a business and political level.


This will coax the governments to exercise their power over private companies, creating political and economic uncertainty for them. Also, in a matter of 10 years, a global shortage maybe observed in certain commodity areas, resulting in the balance between suppliers and buyers shifting towards the suppliers’ side. The opportunities in the private sector will increase and will result in more outsourcing of various services. However, the government may pressurize private firms to regulate themselves or behave more responsibly.


The author predicts that technology development will not slowdown in the next decade and procurement might disappear completely as automation of procurement activities takes place. However, he also notes that even with increased technology, the need for interpersonal contact and human judgment will not decrease.


For instance, even after supply chain activities have been completely automated, critical judgmental and commercial issues will still exist. Machines will not be able to solve issues like reputation management and outsourcing issues.


Even in various other sectors, like public procurement and services, managing internal stakeholder power and its relation to the external market will remain the main focus of procurement. This clearly depicts that procurement will not disappear within the next decade. However, there will be a dire need for it to undergo certain changes. In response to these changes, the procurement professionals will also need to develop novel skills in order to manage these changes.


Furthermore, the industry will have to reduce its focus of cutting down on unit costs. Instead, the primary task of procurement within the next decade would be to manage the value gained by an organization while dealing with the current and potential suppliers.


Mr. Paulo predicts that the future will witness rapid changes, fresh challenges and more global issues. In response to this, the procurement profession will have better technology and the procurement personnel will have the relevant knowledge, skills and behavior.

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Is your proposal or tender addressed to all decision makers?

One of the biggest mistakes that bid writers make is to mainly focus the proposal on the features of the product or service that the company plans to deliver.


In fact, a proposal needs to talk to those who will make and assess your proposal. Not all buyers are the same, have the same needs or buy the same way.


When you write your proposal, you need to bear in mind who is going to read it. If you don’t customise the proposal for them, the chances are they will dismiss it.


Technical expertise or a logically constructed methodology is important in a proposal, like attaching résumés, qualifications and project planning documents, for example. However, at the end of the day, people decide as individuals before they decide as a committee. So every member should want to work with you if you wish to make it through the process.


In complex sales, when proposals are required, a group of people (or committee ) will be in charge of making a decision about whether to buy a service or product. Not everyone on the committee will perceive the situation (the problem) in the same way; not everyone will have the same opinion about the scope and the range of potential solutions. Businesses, though, do not realise that people might see things differently even if they are in the same situation, or that they will have different selection criteria and different bias. If you don’t take all buyers’ needs and requirements into account, you weaken your chances of winning a contract or project.


Sales professionals know that there are different types of buyers in complex sales (like tenders). Knowing how to analyse the members of a team, and their needs is crucial.


In his book, The New Strategic Selling, Robert Miller mentions that there are four types of buyers: the economic buyer, the user buyer, the technical buyer and the facilitator buyer. Richard Freed, in Writing Winning Business Proposals, argues that there are in fact five buyers.


At the webinar on Friday 17th May, we will explain the different types of buyers, their requirements and their needs, and how to recognise these different buyers when dealing with complex sales, such as tenders or proposals for corporate companies. Click here to register.


Christina Murias, Green Growth Consulting

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