Going straight from sales to a proposal is problematical in a way that can lower your revenue. When a salesperson spends time working on a proposal, they are not finding and qualifying more leads. This can cause peaks and valleys in your growth. When the salesperson does not spend time working on the proposal, who is going to apply the customer, opportunity, and competitive insights discovered to winning the proposal? Without those insights, your win probability will suffer.
Having a proposal manager will improve your ability to produce the document for submission and will increase your win probability. But without quality input, the proposal function can’t produce quality output.
Capture management takes over from sales after a lead has been qualified. Sales finds and qualifies the leads. Capture management provides dedicated attention to pursuing the leads and brings the required inputs to the proposal in order to win.
Capture management interacts with the entire company
The capture management function is a lot more than just a sales facilitator. It is the sales closer. Capture management figures out what it will take to win and then integrates everything in the company in order to accomplish that. It takes companies from where everyone tries really hard to win but it isn't really part of their job to where the company has a dedicated focus on winning. Capture management works with technical staff to define the solution or offering. It works with pricing and technical staff to determine the price to win. It works with everyone who interacts with the customer to gain insight. It works with contracts to achieve compliance and on the representations, certifications, terms and conditions. It works with HR, Facilities, Finance, and potentially both accounts receivable and payable. Capture management works with everyone who can to contribute to the win.
Capture management can be a change agent
As a company, you have to decide what “works with” really means. And you have to decide how important is winning and all that “growth oriented culture” stuff and the financial impact of your win rate really is to you. Should the capture management function shape the solution/offering? Or merely ask someone technical to define the solution? Does the capture management function ask for cooperation, or does the capture management function define how the company should adapt to the customer? Does the capture manager have to ask nicely, beg, and cajole all of the people they have to work with in order to attempt to win? Or does the company serve its potential customers, and the capture manager represents them?
Are you really a customer focused organization? Or do your silos determine how customer focused you are willing to be? These are high-level, executive philosophical questions. Do you want the silos to direct the company, or do you want the function that integrates everyone around growth strategies to direct the company?
There’s room for collaboration, but these questions are worth consideration. They determine what experience and expertise you need in your capture managers, as well as what role they will play and what authority they should have. If you are just introducing capture management, answering these questions may require change. Introducing capture management gives you an opportunity to reconsider what you want your company to become, as opposed to simply adding to what you’ve already got.
Introducing capture management is an opportunity to raise the bar on performance
Introducing capture management is also an opportunity to add a little structure to how you do things. Introducing capture management means setting expectations that run in both directions with every part of the company. It means defining the inputs and outputs of each handoff and contribution. You don’t have to go all in on burdensome process detail. You can begin by simply discussing expectations, inputs, and outputs, and taking some notes. Introducing capture management makes your entire company perform better by raising the bar for everyone it touches. Which is everyone.
Introducing capture management will increase your win rate. Adding some structure will enable people, in all parts of the company, to perform at a level higher than they currently and informally do. Having that structure means that you have something to bring new people into and a way to support them already in place. It beats making it up as you go along every time. This means it's profitable to introduce capture management. It returns more than it costs. It orients the entire company toward growth.
The ROI gift that keeps on giving
By winning more of what you are already pursuing, capture management not only pays for itself and then some, it enables you to hire the people you need to do things right. This will also improve your win rate. Each improvement in your win rate will increase your ROI. It can lead to a virtuous cycle of ROI improvement.
It is possible to introduce capture management and fail. If you simply hire a “capture manager” and expect them to figure it all out, or if you start training capture managers without considering how you will change your company to maximize their impact, you’ll recreate the same problems you have now. Only you’ll have more people to retrain in the future. You should only implement capture management if you're ready to dedicate and focus attention on winning. If you're just going to dual-hat a project manager without training, don't expect to transform your company into a winning growth-machine. Capture management is not the sort of thing you can do half-way. Trying to do so may not even provide half of the potential return that implementing capture management can bring.
Embrace the change
When you realize that the way you are going from sales to proposals isn’t going to cut it anymore, it’s time to pause and reflect. What do you want your company to be like when it grows up and how do you want the various parts of your company to work together to accomplish that? It’s all fine and good to make it up as you go along when you’re small. But when do you stop doing that? When you are ready to transform your company, introducing capture management is a great place to start.
The day you find yourself thinking about hiring a capture manager is the day to reconsider it all
When you decide to go ahead and hire a capture manager, you should take advantage of the opportunity it represents. Use introducing capture management as a change agent. Use introducing capture management to stop defining roles by the person sitting the chair and start systematically defining roles by what needs to happen in order to win. Use introducing capture management to become a growth-oriented culture that involves everyone in the company in the opportunities that growth can bring. Use introducing capture management to stop making it all up as you go along, and actually have defined expectations, inputs, and outputs. Use introducing capture management not just to get some help by adding another person to the roster. Use introducing capture management to grow.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.