If you want to go after contracts that are bigger than yourself, you have to work with other people. And that means you need to organize and manage the effort. Proposal management means answering questions like:
- Where do you draw the lines? On the organization chart? Between one person's role and another?
- Who defines the goals and sets the direction? And what goals and directions should they set?
- How do you measure proposal progress? How do people know if they are on track?
- How do you allocate proposal resources and perform scheduling?
- Who issues proposal assignments and who is responsible for fulfilling them?
- Who defines, implements, oversees, and enforces the required processes?
- How do people know what's acceptable? Who defines proposal quality?
- Who's in charge, and why won't they listen to you?
- Who decides what and how?
- How do you do better next time? What should you do to constantly improve your win rate?
Organizational development is vital for increasing your win rate
If you want to win consistently you'll need to develop the right culture, skills, and habits throughout the organization in order for people to play their parts. It also means avoiding the bad ones. Some people, maybe some in your organization, have preconceptions that can destroy your company's win rate. This is important, since winning benefits everybody in the organization. Jobs are created and opportunities for growth are provided that the organization wouldn't be able to provide otherwise.
Winning business pursuits and proposals should not be something that people have to do, but something that they get to do. Besides, the people working proposals sometimes have as much ability to change their company as the CEO.
Organizational development requires paying attention to staff development
It starts with hiring the right staff. We've developed an assessment tool to help you hire great proposal writers. But for every proposal specialist working on a bid, you probably have several people who aren't specialists, and you still need to get the most out of them because their contributions are vital for winning. Because proposal writing is related to marketing and sales, sometimes it can be difficult to get technical staff and subject matter experts to fully participate.
If you are a proposal specialist, then here are six subjects to learn about that can help you write better proposals.
Congratulations, you're a manager!
Now figure out how to achieve your goals with the meager resources you've been given. If that's not good enough, you'd better be able to explain how many people you really need. And who you need on your team. A good place to start is by eliminating waste, since a lot of effort that goes into proposals is simply wasted. If you still don't have enough resources, here are some tips to help you get by.
Congratulations, you're an executive!
When you have profit and loss responsibility (P&L), growth becomes vital. Here are 21 tips for new executives with business development responsibilities that they didn't teach you before you got the job. If that's too much for you, just focus on doing this one thing to win more business. If you want to get the most out of your resources, here are nine things your proposal team can't decide without your help and a couple of character traits you might want to cultivate if you care about winning. And before you pick your next proposal manager, here's how to know if someone's ready for the job.
Management by metrics
One of the things the MustWin Process does for you is give you ways to measure business development and proposal progress that you've never had before.
Managing to win
Winning proposals consistently requires having a process that informs people about what they should do and enables them to work better as a team. And getting everyone on the same page regarding what the process should be can be excruciatingly difficult. But usually it's because you're overlooking the real reason why your process is failing.
When seeking to improve your win rate, where you should start depends on what your role is. But there are some key areas that are worth investing in if you want to win more of what you bid. If you are just getting started on formalizing the way you produce your proposals, then start with the basics. There are a lot of things that will impact your ability to deliver a winning proposal. Make sure you are focusing on the right things and don't go down the wrong path. Instead focus on these six critical areas.
Best practices are all fine and good, but too often in the world of proposals were are called on to solve proposal emergencies. When this is the case, you have to be able to practice proposal triage.
Proposal management and project management have a lot in common. You have to deal with resource allocation, workflow, quality assurance, and
"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."
Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980
Lessons learned and continuous improvement
Continuous improvement supports being competitive, achieving your full potential, and helping your company grow. Making sure that you're focusing on the right lessons learned after each proposal is key. Sometimes there's a lot of CYA going on after a proposal loses, and people too easily accept that the proposal lost "on price" because nobody can be blamed for it. Here's what you really need to know about a proposal you lost, and here's how to make sure you don't lose before you even start your proposals.
And if you're working on a proposal right now that's broken, here are 12 strategies for how to fix it.
1) Proposal Planning Goals
2) Proposal Schedule Worksheet
3) Proposal Assignments
4) Team Member Data
5) Proposal Resources
6) Proposal Production Plan
When the RFP is released, the deadline clock starts ticking. You should be prepared to act quickly. This RFP release checklist can help. One of the first things you should do is distribute copies of the RFP so that all stakeholders can begin reading it without delay. Here is an RFP distribution list template.
Holding a proposal Kickoff Meeting can help get the proposal off to the right start. Here is some material to help you get the most out of your Kickoff Meetings:
- Kickoff Meeting Guidance
- Kickoff Meeting Agenda Checklist
- Kickoff Meeting Planning Worksheet
- Kickoff Meeting Invitation Template
Typically the customer will provide instructions for submitting questions regarding the RFP. Here is a format you can use to consistently and clearly present your questions.
When the customer needs to make changes to the RFP, they usually release an amendment to the RFP. Amendments can come at any time and may be insignificant, or they may change everything. Here is a checklist for what to do when an RFP amendment is released.
What to do when you receive a proposal assignment
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The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.
In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.