What matters more: business development, capture management, or proposal management?

What you need is driven by what it takes to win

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Not really. But sometimes you do have to decide which to focus on first. Or how much to budget for each. 

Keep in mind that companies often define things differently. They often blur the lines between roles. If you have a slash in your title (i.e. BD/capture, capture/proposal) then you are neither. You stop prospecting the moment you start doing capture. You stop doing capture the moment you get in the weeds of document production. 

What matters depends on several things

See also:
Roles
  • There is a difference between selling commodities where meeting the specifications matters more than who provides what is being procured, and selling complex services or solutions where the provider matters very much. 
  • The more the procurement focuses on specifications and price, the less important the relationship with the vendor is. The more the procurement focuses on approaches, risk, and quality, the more who the vendor is matters. These are essentially trust issues, but trust matters differently depending on what is being procured. The more trust matters, the more important capture management becomes.
  • If you bid a high volume of proposals, then business development becomes more important to feed the funnel. All those leads have to come from somewhere. 
  • If you bid a low volume of high value proposals, then relationship marketing that produces an information advantage is critical. But strategy matters and a great proposal is needed to close the sale.
  • If compliance with the RFP requirements is critical or if your proposal will be evaluated formally, then proposal management becomes critical.
  • How many people get involved in your proposals? It’s always more than you think. But as the number of contributors to the proposal increases, the need for proposal management also increases.
  • What is the depth and breadth of your offerings? If what you offer is highly technical or covers multiple specialties, you can’t expect one person to do it all. However, if you only have a single offering, then it is possible for someone to learn everything they need to know to prepare your proposals without help.

All this means that what is important for another company, even one in your industry, may not be the right approach for your company.

If you are a business development, capture, or proposal manager, here are some things to consider that impact just how much your role matters to your company.

If all you're doing is…

  • Business development. If all you do is mine databases for RFPs or take orders, you're not adding as much value as someone who finds opportunities before they are published. You may be processing information instead of developing customer relationships and generating leads. Also, if your company bids everything, you're not doing lead qualification. Bidding unqualified leads is nothing to brag about.
  • Capture management. If you start at RFP release, ask yourself what makes you different from being a proposal manager. How much do you contribute to developing the information advantage, proposal strategies, differentiators, winning offering, and price to win? 
  • Proposal management. If all you're doing is putting someone else's information on paper, you're not adding as much value as someone who helps people understand the customers' expectations and how to win in writing.

Which roles can you do without?

  • If business development didn't exist, who would establish relationships with new customers? Who would fill the pipeline with leads?
  • If capture management didn't exist, who would herd the cats to deliver the information, strategies, and differentiated offering needed to win the proposal?
  • If proposal management didn't exist, who would fill all the voids and take on the workload to get the proposal submitted on time no matter what? 

Who contributes the most to winning?

  •  If business development doesn't establish customer relationships, how will you gain an information advantage?
  •  If capture management doesn't figure out what it will take to win and prepare proposal inputs based on it, then who will?
  •  If proposal management doesn't deliver a proposal without defects that is based on how the customer will evaluate the document and make their decision, who will?

What does it all add up to?

See also:
Pursuit and Capture Program

Tell me the answers to the questions above and I'll tell you which is more important at your company. 
 
Not all companies are ready for dedicated capture management. At some companies, they need a proposal manager just to manage the workload, and can fill the gaps in strategy and solutioning well enough. At other companies, they might have business development and proposal management staff, but their win rate will suffer without capture management. 
 
Which role is the most important? The one that makes the greatest contribution to win rate. 

  • If business development has no involvement once the proposal starts, they don't contribute to the sale closing.  They don't deliver the win. But if they develop an information advantage and help drive it into the proposal, they are vital.
  • If capture management doesn't turn the information advantage into winning proposal strategies and a winning offering at the right price, your chances of winning go down. But if they do, their contribution is vital.
  • If proposal management doesn't produce a compliant proposal that presents the offering according to the win strategies, you're just producing expensive paper. But if they help the company get their strategies on paper while achieving RFP compliance, their contribution is vital.

So what do they do and not do at your company?

Reach out to us below and have a discussion about our MustWin Pursuit and Capture Program before May 31st and
we'll discount participation in the program by $500.

Which is easiest to outsource?

Which is the easiest to use consultants for instead of full-time hires?

  • If you outsource business development, you outsource your company’s future. Maybe you can jump start things that way. But developing the ability to identify qualified leads is a core corporate competency.
  • If you outsource capture management, you are outsourcing offering design and strategy development. Those are also core competencies. But you might be able to outsource someone who can lead your staff through the process of offering design and strategy development.
  • If you outsource proposal management, you are outsourcing your ability to pull it all together and get it on paper. If you intend to do a lot of proposals, this becomes a core competency. But you might be able to outsource capacity instead of capability.

Outsource to learn. Outsource coordination. But don't outsource a capability you need your company to develop. When you not only have the capability, but also have a mature process to bring people into, then it becomes easier to outsource.

  • If you use a consultant to do business development, you better have a strong lead qualification process to assess the leads they generate. And unless you're going to pay them to do capture and the proposal, you better have those capabilities as well.
  • If you use a consultant to do capture management, you better have strongly qualified leads for the investment to pay off. You'll also need strong proposal management so that they dedicate their attention to capture management and not document production.
  • If you use a consultant for proposal management, you better understand what it will take to win and have the information, offering design, and price to win as input.

All of them benefit from process

  • Business development benefits from strategic direction, lead qualification, and intelligence gathering guidance. Just leaving it up to people to figure it out on their own will reduce their success.
  • Capture management depends on collaboration, with information flowing in every direction. If they have to make it up as they go along or deal with uncooperative contributors, it will reduce their success.
  • Proposal management depends on input. But if they don't have a process for specifically requesting the input needed to go from merely compliant to a winning proposal, they are less likely to achieve it.

What you need is driven by what it takes to win. You need prospecting and qualified leads that get dedicated attention before the proposal starts so that you can end up with a winning proposal. You need all three functions. But that doesn’t necessarily you need people with all three titles. That will depend on your circumstances. But if you don’t have staff in all three roles, you’ll need to put a lot of thought into how to prevent win rate destroying gaps from developing.

How do you get everyone to play nicely together?

Growth is everyone's job. They are all part of the same goal. But they all hand off information and need to be able to rely on each other. This requires more than just a spirit of teamwork. It requires a process that sets expectations, defines what is needed, explains what to do, verifies that things get done, and adds value at every step. It is extremely difficult to develop this and be dedicated to winning business at the same time. "In between pursuits" means it never gets done. Outsourcing process tailoring and implementation can enable your staff to perform more effectively without disrupting their workflow. The MustWin Pursuit and Capture Program enables all of the stakeholders involved to improve how they work together through a combination of training and building the process items that enable them to perform better than they do on their own.

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Carl Dickson

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

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

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