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7 ways to staff pursuits and proposals for maximum ROI

If they don't have the time to give these attention, it's hurting your business

You will not achieve the maximum ROI by staffing business development, capture, and proposals based on using the minimum number of staff to crank out the maximum number of proposals. To maximize your ROI you need to staff according to the things that most impact your win rate. Increases in win rate return orders of magnitude more than the staffing required to achieve them. Here are seven things you should staff your proposals to achieve:

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  1. RFP Compliance. Achieving compliance is critical. But it is not enough to win. However, it is a baseline for calculating staffing requirements. If any of your bids lose because of a lack of compliance, you can improve your ROI by adding staff to achieve full compliance.
  2. Developing an information advantage. An information advantage is the best competitive advantage. If you are struggling to identify themes, win strategies, and differentiators, it means you lack the information advantage you need. It also means you are not maximizing your win rate. Consider increasing the staff responsible for obtaining an information advantage to increase your ROI. 
  3. Designing your offering separate from proposal writing. Designing your offering by writing about it can do extreme damage to your win rate. Consider investing in attention to offering design separate from the act of presenting your offering in writing. The investment may be more in discipline than in dollars, because you can eliminate countless proposal writing iterations by having a validated offering design when you start writing. 
  4. Content planning that drives your information advantage and positioning into the document. If you are figuring out what you should propose and how to present by writing and rewriting it, you should consider investing in planning the content of your proposals before writing about them. It can make a huge difference in your win rate, by forcing you to discuss and be able to articulate your differentiators, how to maximize your score against the evaluation criteria, and what to offer. Content planning requires investing in focused attention. If your staff only have time to prepare an outline and then immediately jump into writing in order to get it out of the way for other priorities, it’s hurting your win rate and leaving money on the table that could easily pay for the time and attention. Content planning turns winning proposals from something that happens into something that happens on purpose.
  5. Optimization against the evaluation criteria. If your proposal discussions don’t revolve around this, they are focusing on the wrong things. Getting the highest score is the only way to win. This affects everything you do on a proposal. While increasing your win rate is how you maximize ROI, increasing your evaluation scores is how you achieve a higher win rate. This makes doing the preparation, planning, and thinking required to increase your scores something worth investing in.
  6. Visual communication. Graphics, tables, and certain layout elements contribute significantly to delivering your message. If you’ve invested in improving your ability to deliver your message, you can still take it to a higher level by improving your ability to deliver it visually. This isn’t limited to improving your ability to create illustrations. It also includes your ability to visualize your offering and win strategies, and using the process of conceptualizing your graphics to help you understand what it is you are proposing and how it relates to what it will take to win.
  7. Quality validation. If you are still performing proposal reviews without having a written definition of proposal quality and quality criteria to measure it by, then your reviews are not doing enough to improve your proposals and increase your win rate.

As an exercise, try calculating the value of a 1% improvement in win rate. Then apply that to each of these seven areas. How much time, effort, and improvement would that bring? What would the return on investment be?

Each of these seven areas does not have the same priority for every company. Use this list to determine which will have the greatest ROI for your company. 

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