Avoid Logic in Your Proposals

This sounds like crazy advice. You and your technical team will often want to write proposals that are logical. You want your proposals to “make sense.” Right? Not really.

The truth about proposals is that mirroring the RFP submission requirements and rating criteria is always a better approach than writing something that is “logical.”

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are picking up your sweetheart for a date. His/her father comes down to greet you and says, ” Here is what I want to know: what time are you bringing my child home, where are you going, how are you going to get there, and how can I reach you?”

It might be logical to answer like this, “We’ll be driving my car to Jimmy’s birthday party at the roller rink, the phone number at the rink is 555-RINK, and we will be back here by 10pm.”

But in the proposal world, that’s a rookie mistake. You need to mirror the request exactly. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the initial review of your proposal is often done by someone who is not a decision maker.

Their job is to weed out the proposals that are “not responsive” or do not meet the proposal criteria set out. Second, proposals are usually judged by a committee using specific grading criteria. It’s the proposal writer’s job to make it as easy as possible to rate your proposal.

Using logic often makes it harder, not easier to grade a proposal.

The real answer to dad’s question is:

  1.  I’ll have him/her home by 10pm
  2. We are going to Jimmy’s Birthday party at the roller rink.
  3. I will be driving us to the rink in my car.
  4. You can reach us by calling the rink at 555-RINK”

People often find it hard to write like this because it seems illogical or wrong. But in the world of proposals, logic does not dictate. Your response should be dictated by the client’s request and I can’t ever remember reading an rfp that seemed logical.


  1. Carl Harrison says

    I have over 20 years managing proposal teams and this is the most important direction to be followed. This really makes the difference in making the down-select or not and your wining the contract A proposal is a marketing document addressing the customers evaluation criteria (sec M) in response to their questions (sec L). Those must be your response focus logical or not

  2. Sandra Drain says

    I agree! For the most part, our team follows this rule. If we do deviate from the proposal order requested, we take extra effort to make it perfectly clear that we are compliant. That usually means using their exact wording for section titles.

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