Develop Proposals That Sell Rather Than Tell

Client – IBM, the world’s largest information technology company

Strategic Goals

To train consultants for hardware, software, and service solutions to develop winning proposals

Communication Challenges

For years, IBM dominated the computer industry without serious competition. The client question was not “Do we buy from IBM?” but only “Which model/solution do we buy from IBM?” Then the environment changed: Competitors flooded the market, initiating the need for change:

  • Market share was dropping.
  • Consultants who had previously walked into a client’s office to demonstrate a system were not accustomed to leaving behind a proposal as their new competitors did.
  • Their large-contract proposals read more like “statements of work” than persuasive proposals.
  • Standardized proposals for large accounts existed at headquarters, but they had proven to be less than effective in smaller-bid situations.
  • Consultants were unfamiliar with their internal tools and resources for proposal development.
  • Biographies of project specialists and managers had no uniform appearance, and thus every proposal author had to revise them.
  • Consultants needed direction in presenting their proposals orally to clients.


Booher’s solution included:

  • Interviewing marketing and legal specialists about deficiencies identified in their proposals and positioning
  • Developing “the story” to tell clients
  • Reviewing consulting biographies to identify deficiencies and develop standard formats for use in different project proposals with minimal editing
  • Developing proposal models
  • Conducting Booher’s Developing Winning Proposals to teach consultants to create their own customized proposals based on models provided
  • Creating an online tool (accessible worldwide to IBM employees) to assist all employees in writing their internal and external biographies
  • Conducting Writing Your Professional Biography courses for employees who preferred classroom training to the online tool
  • Conducting Presentations That Work® training to help consultants present their proposals orally to clients
  • Creating leader guides to training programs and certifying internal IBM staff to conduct this training throughout IBM


IBM awarded Booher its Star Quality Award as the highest-rated outside supplier of training among its asset management (non-technical) programs.

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