Dear GMC – Industry Definitions

By Heather Finch, CF APMP

Dear GMC, 

Is the opportunity assessment the same as the go/no-go decision? What’s the difference between win strategy and price to win? How do these work with commercial proposals?


Nichole and the GMC Certification Study Group

Dear Nichole and the GMC Certification Study Group,

Definitions abound in the proposal industry. According to the APMP Body of Knowledge (which is a great resource available for free to all APMP members!), the opportunity assessment or opportunity qualification is the phase in the business development process that includes researching what opportunities to pursue based on a match with the company’s abilities and resources. Typically, the go/no-go (or bid/no-bid) decision happens later in the process, after the opportunity/capture plan is complete and a company is confident they are in a good position to win.

Win strategy and price-to-win are also similar but different from each other. The win strategy is the overall plan to win an opportunity. This includes the identification of strengths and weaknesses and how to highlight them to the prospect. On the other hand, price-to-win considers how to develop and position the pricing in the proposal to illustrate the best value. 

Where all of this gets really fun is how a company uses these terms and processes internally. Some organizations have very formal practices that nearly parallel the APMP Body of Knowledge. Others have found ways to condense their processes to meet the fast turnaround times needed by their customers. Depending on the industry and the business, commercial proposals often fall into this latter category, for example, where the opportunity assessment and the go/no-go decision may happen simultaneously. Join Christine Sowinski and me at APMP’s BPC Global on October 27 at 7 pm EST for our presentation In the Real World. We will talk about how completely different proposal shops navigate best practices to design effective processes that work for our very different industries.

While each company will have its own lexicon and processes, having common definitions helps us as professionals share best practices and speak a common language when discussing our real-life experiences. Exploring these definitions and considering how they fit into your company, especially in the context of becoming certified, is an invaluable way to better understand your proposal environment and ways you might be able to improve your processes. 

Of course, I can’t end this response without sending a hearty congratulations to the brave GMC Members who participated in the 2020 Foundation Certification Study group, and an even bigger congratulations to those who have passed the test! I have it on good authority 2021 will bring new opportunities to participate, including the addition of a Practitioner Certification Study Group, so stay tuned! 

Do you have a proposal-related question? Use the anonymous form here to submit your question and receive a little advice. 

Just a little disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. This column, its author, and APMP GMC are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.

Heather first encountered the acronym “RFP” when seeking ways to diversify funding sources for a human services company in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. Since then, she’s moved on to lead proposal teams in both the commercial and government sectors, refining processes and developing efficiencies along the way.

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