Differentiate your Winning Sustainable Solutions

Winning contract opportunities with sustainable strategies can be tricky – especially since it’s no secret that one of the biggest Government hot buttons is to maximize energy savings and security. As the Government focuses more on energy and sustainability, it’s important to understand the unique needs associated with each customer and installation. Providing effective strategies to help make the U.S. more resilient and sustainable can put your proposal at the top of the stack. But as many companies discover, simply throwing sustainable features into your proposal is not enough to win. If your competition has the same solution, how do you differentiate your approach? How can you strategically use sustainability in proposals?

The first step is to develop your energy strategy with your client in mind. What’s the client’s mission? What are the end user’s key issues or requirements? Where is the client located? What are its hot buttons? What are the limitations related to the project budget or location? It’s crucial to identify the tangible and quantifiable benefits  to the customer. Show proof  based on real data and experience. How will your proposed energy solution benefit the client?

The second step is to strategically present the information in a compelling manner. No matter how innovative your idea may be, you won’t be able to sell it if you can’t present a convincing case. Bear in mind that there is a finite amount of amount of energy options, so your competitors may be selling the same solution as you are. However, even if your solution is not unique, by incorporating presentation strategies, you can make your proposal memorable to the evaluators. See the examples on this page for inspiration on how to graphically and compellingly present your proposed solutions.

01-engergy-graphicsOnce you’ve determined what matters to the customer, how do you incorporate that knowledge into your proposal?

People remember experiences. Tell your story so that it engages and makes people care. After researching what the customer wants, build your story on what you want the customer to take away. It’s not enough to regurgitate performance data and system specifications. Frame the details with what they mean for the client and why the client should care about them.

For example, notice the difference between these?

“The design includes a photovoltaic system for the facility.”


“The installation’s location in Phoenix is a prime location to take full advantage of a photovoltaic system. To meet the Air Force’s long-term energy security goals, our design features a 1.5 megawatt photovoltaic system to provide 100% of the new facility’s energy needs, thereby reducing the base’s reliance on purchased energy by more than [insert amount] kWh over the course of the year.”

In the original statement, the evaluator is left asking, “So what?” However, we can easily enhance the impact of the statement by tying it to the customer’s goals. According to a ClimateWire article[1], the Air Force’s new view of renewable energy is focused “squarely on security, rather than potential savings.” By clearly linking to the customer’s goals, the revised statement makes it for the evaluator to determine why the data matters. Here, the evaluator has customer benefits to take away: the proposed design reduces energy needs and helps the Air Force meet energy security goals.


Remember the old adage: “Show not tell.”

Don’t just tell the Government that your sustainable solution is the best value: prove it. Provide performance details. Include energy models and lighting models. Without data, the claims are just empty words. There’s a difference between:

“The proposed system is highly efficient.”


“The highly efficient (94%) HVAC system featuring variable air volume (VAV) system, variable frequency drives (VFDs), dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS), energy recovery wheel, optimized chiller, occupancy sensors, and direct digital controls will provide for 65% more energy efficiency than the current system.”

Help evaluators easily visualize what you are trying to convey.
When providing technical engineering data, think about the best way to communicate the information. A table? A flowchart? A chart or table can make it easier for the evaluators to determine the important aspects of your proposed energy solution as well as compare benefits.

For example, include an energy model table with baseline or standard design values compared to your proposed system design.

Write for a variety of audiences. 03-energy-graphics

Can you explain it in a way that an evaluator with a non-technical background can understand? Your company’s energy specialist is often from an engineering background. While engineers tend to focus on features and specifications and making sure that the system meets the requirements, it is important to translate complex terms into language that is informational yet compelling to the average reader.

Include testimonials from other customers.

Substantiate your claims with further evidence, incorporate quotes from previous clients that have used your offering and witnessed results.

Highlight the strengths of your team.

The last step to differentiate your proposal from the competitions is to describe how your team’s experience and past performance enhance the proposed solution. For example, highlight specific instances when the same team proposed solutions that were proven effective on a similar building type.

Win with solutions that are aligned with the customer’s needs and presented in a compelling manner.

Incorporating strategies for sustainability and energy into your proposal is not so different from your other proposal strategies: it’s not enough to include a feature; you have to make sure your proposal’s value proposition is clearly aligned with your customer’s needs and is presented in a manner that gives your customer confidence in your solution. The customer must be able to identify differentiators between your proposal and those of competitors, and ultimately want to choose you. By keeping the client in mind as you select your sustainable strategies, while clearly quantifying the benefits, you can provide a win to the Government and your team.


For more information on strategies to differentiate your proposals and win government contracts, please contact us at www.strategiccreations.com/contact.


[1] Energy Security Drives U.S. Military to Renewables, ClimateWire, March 16, 2016

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