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Strategy and Win Themes

Baskar Sundaram

Strategy and win themes play an evolutionary role in the development of an opportunity. As intelligence improves, strategy evolves and competitive focus matures, driving improved win themes. Proposal strategy statements are a tool to verbalize your win strategies in a way that helps everyone on your team understand how the bid will succeed. Strategy is inextricably linked to the customer, competitor, and bidder capability assessments developed in the opportunity plan. SWOT analysis, whether formal or informal, provides the information you need to create both opportunity and proposal strategies.

Develop opportunity strategies and win themes early.

Assemble your team to brainstorm the best ways to position yourself to win. Use tools like Bidder Comparison Matrix and SWOT analysis. Determine specific actions that you will perform to improve your win probability and document those actions in strategy statement templates. A unifying concept is important to keep your themes on message. Choose a single word or two that summarizes your opportunity strategy. Expand your unifying concept to an elevator speech.

Identify a “killer” opportunity strategy and refine it as intelligence improves.

The litmus test of the very best opportunity strategy is that if it were revealed to the competition, it would damage your chances of winning. Identify a “killer” strategy. Assess it to flesh out your win themes. Re-evaluate your strategy statements as better competitive intelligence is developed.

Use opportunity plan review and competitor review feedback to focus your strategies and win themes.

Use of opportunity plan and competitor review feedback helps you to focus your strategies and win themes.

Build proposal strategies for anticipated response requirements.

Use the feedback from review teams and return to your strategy statements to identify potential proposal theme statements, trade studies, and ghosting opportunities. Perform competitive studies.

Design a proposal cover and key graphic that reflect your overall offer and overarching theme.

The process of representing your concepts visually will help you sharpen your message and kick-start your executive summary mockup and transition of opportunity plans to proposal plans.

Monitor transition of strategy and win themes to proposal content, final proposal response, and contract negotiations.

Opportunity plans have to be exactly transitioned into proposal plans. Carefully map strategy statements and win themes all the way through to technical, management, and price solutions at contract negotiations. You might need a three- or four-level pricing strategy or plan to reduce technical scope, but you must know before bidding what you will deliver on the contract and at what price.


Strategies and win themes must evolve from positioning actions and statements to solution strategies and themes based on the entire opportunity environment. The litmus test of the best opportunity strategy is that if it were revealed to the competition, it would damage your chances to win. Review and repeat SWOT analyses to confirm that your strategy statements are still aligned as the requirements and competitive field change. Translate win themes to proposal themes for each major section of the proposal. Use quantified benefits statements in customer-focused themes. Communicate and ensure understanding of your strategies and themes through the proposal all the way to contract negotiations.

The article briefly details key examinable syllabus area from the APMP Foundation certification.

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