Stories have 5 elements: the hero, the crisis, obstacles to addressing the crisis, steps taken to overcome the obstacles, and the resolution. You can tell a story in five succinct sentences.
What is NOT in a story is all the information you would include if you were writing a report or a news article. Your audience or readers don't need to have every detail in the exact order they occurred. Too many proposal writers and presenters get bogged down in reporting the details and miss telling the story.
I've begun to think that capture leads, account executives and others who cultivate relationships with customers and identify contract opportunities need to think of their overall Win Strategy in terms of the elements of a story. Consider this:
Company X is the hero. The agency customer has a crisis (a serious, important need or problem to fix). There are A,B,C obstacles in the way of addressing the crisis. These could be lack of money, poor processes, the wrong people, old technology or others. The RFP requirements provide the steps to take to overcome the obstacles. Company X's work generates the resolution.
As you develop your proposal, you follow these same elements for each volume and sub-section of the proposal, including the slides for your Orals. This is the easiest way to write within page limits (5 senetences!) and use graphics in a meaningful way (they illustrate how you overcome the obstacles).
Instead of struggling over win themes and discriminators before you begin the proposal, why not write your different stories with these five elements? You will find that certain methods for overcoming the obstacles keep recurring and certain outcomes also recur. These are your discriminators and win themes. And they are built in, not added on.
Take a few minutes to craft a story with your company as the hero, your customer facing a crisis, you identifying the obstacles and the steps you take to overcome the obstacles and the resolution. Then share that with me through our comment link. I'll be happy to give you my thoughts about what you've written.