Increase your win rate by improving your business development handoffs

A winning proposal is the result of a series of handoffs

For each item, who does it and what comes next? Sometimes it’s not about the step, but how you set up the next one that determines your success. Clarifying who does what, and what each person involved can expect from each other, is as important as having enough people. 

One company might have lots of small customers. Another may have a few large customers. One company might have lots of different offerings. Another may only have a few. One might offer custom solutions. Another might sell commodities. There is no one way to organize marketing, pre-sales, sales, capture, and proposal development functions. This means you can't assume that everyone knows what each role is supposed to do. And because each is dependent on the others for success, you can't assume that each knows what to give to the others when it's time to hand off. Do you lose information at each step or do you build to the finish? How does that impact your win rate?

The Sales Pipeline

What are the roles of marketing, pre-sales, sales, and capture in filling your pipeline? Where are the handoffs? What gets handed off? How should the overlaps be managed? Do you have any gaps or lack of clarity?

  • Who finds the leads that fill the pipeline? Is it the sales person or is there a pre-sales function? What gets passed on to who?
  • Who qualifies the leads? And how are leads qualified? What are the standards? 
  • Who closes the deal? Does it close with a proposal? Who has responsibility for doing what it takes to close the sale? This can be everything from designing the offering, to staffing the proposal, to overseeing delivery. If a salesperson is responsible for chasing as many leads as possible, does someone else need to be responsible for capturing the lead? If you're offering is complex, you might need specialists involved to design the offering? When, where, and how will they be involved? And if a proposal manager is used to oversee developing the proposal, who is responsible for providing the information needed to write a winning proposal? Is sales still involved during the proposal phase?
  • Who decides when to drop a lead? Who is responsible for bid/no bid decisions? When do they happen?
  • Who owns the customer relationships? If there are handoffs from sales to capture to proposal, then does one person retain ownership of the customer relationship? Or can anyone interact with the potential customer? The approach that works for a company with multiple contracts at each customer might be different from the approach that works for a company with only one contract per customer.

Intelligence Gathering
Is one person or multiple people responsible for gathering intelligence? What gets delivered for use in the proposal? Who prepares it?

  • Who gathers customer intelligence? What are their intentions and preferences? Who are the decision makers and stakeholders? Who is supposed to find out?
  • Who gathers opportunity intelligence? What are the real size, scope, and requirements? What are the budget and funding issues? 
  • Who gathers competitive intelligence? Who currently does business with the customer and who might want to?

Offering Design and Teaming
What are the roles of sales, capture, operations, and the proposal team in determining what to offer? 

  • Who determines what the winning offer should be? Who engineers the solution? Who drafts the specifications? Who selects among the options? Who defines and describes it? Who describes it and how? Who writes about it?
  • Who determines the price to win? What are the price targets? How low can you/should you go? How does this impact the offering? 
  • Who identifies potential teaming partners? Can you/should you team and who with? Who provides the justification and who decides? Who is responsible for finding the right companies to team with? Who is responsible for maintaining relationships with potential teaming partners?
  • Who negotiates and decides teaming arrangements? Who decides what roles the team members will play? Who is responsible for their contributions to the proposal? Who will decide the business arrangements?

Strategies
You can’t write about them if you don’t have them. Who should provide them?

  • Who is responsible for identifying bid strategies? If you get to the proposal and you have no differentiators and no clear bid strategies, should that be the proposal manager’s problem to solve? Who is responsible for being able to articulate why the customer should select you? Is that something that should be considered during lead qualification or pursuit? 
  • Who is responsible for knowing what it will take to win? You can’t build a process around what it will take to win, if no one knows the customer, opportunity, and competitive environment well enough. Who is responsible for discovering what you need to know, assessing it, and turning into your bid strategies?
     


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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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