24 tips to help you do a good job on your proposal

How can you tell if you're doing a good job?

Maybe you’ve got a great proposal process. Maybe you don’t. But when you’re in the middle of one, you’re stuck. You can't go back in time and prepare better before you start. The resources you have may be all you're going to get. You may not be able to get answers to your questions. And yet, you must conquer.

So how do you figure out what to do when? How do you herd the cats to work like a team? Where should you devote your attention? How do you make the most of your circumstances? Is there anything you can do to make them better?

Who are you?

Keep in mind that sometimes “you” is just you. And sometimes it’s your whole organization. Usually it’s a mix of both.

The following tips are written from a proposal manager’s perspective. Kinda. Even though they’re mostly about proposals, if we all did these things every day, at work and at home, we’d be better people and the world would become a better place. But even if you’re not that ambitious, just addressing them on a proposal can improve your win rate and make for a much better experience. 

Answering these questions can lead you to doing a better job on your proposal 

See also:
Dealing with adversity

Think carefully on the tips below, because many of them can be considered from multiple perspectives. In fact, gaining perspective might be worth adding as another tip. Use these questions to gain the perspective you need to help you do a better job on your proposal:

  1. How are you measuring your performance?
  2. How are you measuring progress?
  3. Do you understand what it will take to win?
  4. Are you completing a proposal or winning one?
  5. Are you making decisions based on their impact on the probability of winning or based on something else?
  6. Does everyone agree on what the customer expects?
  7. Have you figured out what to do to get the highest score?
  8. Do you have the same priorities as everyone else involved?
  9. When was the last time you spoke to everyone involved?
  10. Are you arguing over things that are worth arguing about?
  11. What have you done to force potential problems to the surface?
  12. What will the customer think of the work you’ve done?
  13. What have you done to make sure everyone else does better than they would on their own?
  14. Does everyone know how to pass their next review?
  15. Does anyone have an assignment they don’t know how to complete?
  16. Are you fighting fires or preventing them?
  17. Does everyone have the information they need to complete their assignments?
  18. How will everyone get the information they’ll need for their future assignments?
  19. Are you building without a blueprint? 
  20. What needs to be done that hasn’t been accounted for?
  21. Is anyone going off script?
  22. What is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about?
  23. After identifying all the known knowns and known unknowns, have you eliminated the potential for surprises?
  24. Does everything above include your teaming partners?    

The answers to these questions will have a profound impact on your success, separate from which process you follow, your level of preparedness, or even your bid strategies. But if you use them to help you prepare, implement an effective process, and conceive your bid strategies the impact will be multiplied.
 

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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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