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8 ways to become a better capture manager and improve your win rate

If you're going to take on an impossible job, you should probably get good at it

When you first get thrown into the job of being a capture manager, you’ll get told plenty of things you need to do. What you might not figure out for years is how to approach things so that you can successfully accomplish all those tasks well enough to win. Here are 8 areas that you can focus on that will help you be a better capture manager and increase your win rate.

See also:
Capture Management
  1. Focus on the areas where you are not comfortable. As a capture manager, most of your losses will come from the areas where you are weak, and not the areas where you are strong. You can become a better capture manager by doing such a good job of overcoming your weaknesses that they become your strengths. You can achieve that through research, training, delegation, or whatever else it takes. Get outside your comfort zone, because that is what’s required to win. If you don’t know what your weaknesses are, then start there. Every capture manager has weaknesses because the job of being a capture manager is impossible.
  2. If you can’t thoroughly channel the voice of the customer, then no one will. Only the customer gets to decide whether your proposal is any good. Every decision you make and every word in your proposal should be based on being able to think like the customer. If you don’t bring that to the proposal, then no one else will. Others will have customer contact. But they won’t be focused on understanding how they’ll make this decision. Making your own opinions and the voice of your company secondary to the voice of the customer is vital for being able to capture the win.
  3. Focus on having an information advantage. Everyone has the same RFP. But who will interpret it better? Who will have more insight? Who will know what matters the most? An information advantage is the best competitive advantage. Your ability to conceive of the right strategies will depend on developing your skills for gathering the information needed to gain the insight required. 
  4. Make it your job to win the proposal. You may have a proposal manager to lead the effort. You might even have an entire proposal department to support the effort. But you should come into that process knowing more about what it will take to win than anyone else on the planet except for the customer. The proposal department will have the RFP and their process. They’ll handle production. But you need to drive the strategies and themes that will result in the win. Everyone else who contributes will just be guessing. Improving your ability to discover and articulate what it will take to win will improve the work of everyone else who contributes to the pursuit.
  5. Be constantly aware of the critical path to winning. If win or loss depends on an evaluation that’s scored, where will you earn enough points to win? And how? Will the strategies and themes you developed before the RFP was released still earn your proposal the highest evaluation score? If winning requires capabilities or qualifications that your company doesn’t have, where will you find them? What is the critical path to winning your proposal? Improving your understanding of the RFP evaluation process and how the evaluation criteria will be applied to your proposals will help you write a proposal that is optimized to get the highest score.
  6. Don’t forget to sell inside your own company. You need resources. You need approvals. You need a budget. You need to delegate. You need effort. Don’t expect people to do that just because they are supposed to. You not only need to sell to the customer, you need to sell to your own company to convince it that the pursuit is worth investing in. You need to convince people that their efforts will be worthwhile. You need to convince them that they want to be a part of it. Improving your ability to make people feel excited and inspired when they make their contributions will pay off. Sell to them like you depend on them to win. 
  7. Learn how to calculate the price to win. What will the winning price be and can you hit it? Just like you shouldn’t rely on the proposal department to be responsible for winning it, don’t expect the pricing department to know the customer’s budget and competitive pricing for this type of procurement. Improving your ability to calculate price to win will help you make better trade-off decisions throughout the process and will substantially increase your probability of winning.
  8. Learn the customer’s acquisition process better than they know it. What step are they on? What comes next? What information do they need to take that step? How should you interpret what it says in the RFP? What will they do with your proposal when they receive it? The more you know about the customer’s acquisition process in general and their evaluation process in particular, the better your predictions and decisions will be.
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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, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a 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.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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