When I interview people for jobs within our company, one of the questions I ask is “what do you do better than anyone else you know?”
I do this for two reasons. First, I find out whether this person has a specific strength that will be useful to us and our clients. Second – and more important – I determine whether the person has done the necessary internal work – looking introspectively at who they really are and who they want to be.
Hiring managers instead often ask about strengths and weaknesses. This is nearly useless, in my experience. “I can use Microsoft Word, and Excel, and PowerPoint, and I can write, and I am good in meetings, and…and…and.” Sure. You and fifty others.
Unfortunately, companies fall victim to the same trap. “What are you good at?” “Well, our care management program has components X, Y, and Z, and we pay claims timely, and we …” That’s great – have you done an analysis against your competitors for each of those dimensions? Why are you different?
Or, the company trots out the mission statement:
We are the market leader in providing advanced health care service administration to our state, federal, and commercial clients.
So are a hundred others.
Why is this important? When you are competing for business in a highly competitive space, you should (a) clearly know the thing that your company does that is well past the competition’s capability; (b) know why that is specifically important to the customer to whom you are selling.
In developing proposals, we create and use win themes to show the customer why your advanced capabilities will benefit that customer, and thus should cause the customer to select you over other bidders.
Win themes need to be few, focused, and compelling. They are the result of introspection (and competitive analysis). Instead of having 12, 15, or 25 “reasons” why you are better than the competition, have three that are so stark, obvious, persuasive, and meaningful that the customer cannot help but notice. Use those themes everywhere in your proposal.
So – what does your company do better than anyone in your sector?