to plan or not to plan that is the question

As I was watching the tail end of a programme about Agatha Christie over the weekend, I heard some words that really echoed with a truism that is so often quoted in the world of proposal and bid creation.

David Suchet, the actor who plays Hercule Poirot so expertly, and a Christie super-fan, who owns some of her original notebooks, were discussing why her stories are so compelling and easy to follow. They both agreed that the reason for this was that she planned out her stories so completely, getting to know her characters and dismissing those that were superfluous to the important messages that she wanted to get across.

Those of us who work in the field of bid and proposal documents all know that best practice says you should plan what you want to write, using storyboards or outlines. And many of us do carry out these planning activities as we all know how much it can help to define the “story” of the service or solution we are describing to our potential client.

So why do so many people then ignore these well thought out plans when it comes to writing their documents? It’s almost as if panic sets in and the goal is to complete the response rather than write a good/winning response that describes how you will meet the client’s business needs and objectives.

So often I hear the words “ok we’re running out of time now we just need to get on and write” and then those same people are really disappointed when reviewers (or the client) says that they can’t see how your solution/service will meet their needs.

Good writers of all persuasions plan what they are going to say to help their readers stay with the story; they know how all the components fit together; they know how the story ends – and in bid and proposal development we hope that the story ends with the client buying from us.

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