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Using PropLIBRARY to start a new proposal group

We’re big fans of coaching. It’s a great way to have high levels of expertise available without breaking the bank. It’s also a great way to start a new proposal group and get it up to speed.

One way we found success with coaching is with weekly meetings (usually by phone, but also online, and occasionally in person) where we discuss the status of pursuits and the process for capturing them with a team of 1-4 people who are fairly junior level and sometimes even entry level who do all the work. The reason it works is that it points inexperienced staff in the right direction, makes sure they’ve got the right approaches, and helps them solve problems.

It avoids problems like the 20-year small business trap. If you start out with the wrong foundation, it can weaken proposal after proposal for years to come.

Over the course of a year or so of coaching, the new staff gain the skills they need to fly solo, and we either cut back the frequency of our sessions or eliminate them completely. Sometimes we get involved with the pursuits themselves, usually as a reviewer. But that depends on the budget. The goal is to get the company's staff to do all the work and become independent so that the company develops its own capability to effectively pursue and win their bids.

When we first tried this approach it was at a billion dollar company that wanted to start a new business unit pursuing task orders. It needed to create a new proposal group that could respond to 10-day turnarounds instead of the +30-day turnarounds of their normal pursuits. They started with three people, one with an administrative background and a little proposal experience, and two with technical backgrounds and no proposal experience. Over the course of a year they became a capable proposal manager and two writers, and we went from meeting with them a couple of times each week to making contact just once every other week. They started winning a lot of business. When the company lost some of the staff in its main proposal group, the staff we coached ended up basically taking over. In a year they went from having little or no experience to taking over proposals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

PropLIBRARY provides a great starting point and a huge accelerator for a new proposal group. With PropLIBRARY, they start off with a fully documented process and a library of resources. They don’t have to figure it all out on their own and are much more effective from the beginning.

Depending on the experience and skill level of the staff, sometimes we start a new group off with some training hours that we use to provide an orientation and get things started. We’ve done this in person and we’ve done it remotely.

The early focus is usually on establishing the pipeline and both pre-RFP and post-RFP procedures. We want to make sure that the flow of information is right, especially when it crosses organizational boundaries.

We also focus on customizing the process. The best way to do that is to run through a real proposal. Rather than invest a ton of hours upfront with an inexperienced group to try to reach perfection on the first attempt, we start simple and raise the bar with each bid. We phase in the best practices, identify and implement customizations, and raise the standards with each bid as the staff gain capability and experience.

Here is what implementing this approach ends up looking like:


The result is that your own staff perform much more effectively. A few hours of coaching improves the performance of several of your own staff and positively impacts thousands of their hours. And you end up with an organization that knows how to win, with the right foundation of resources and processes.

To explore something like this, contact us and we’ll give you the formula. You plug in how many meetings, how much upfront training, and how much to budget for proposal reviews and support. Then play with the numbers until it fits your budget. Each company is different because some have a lot of proposal experience and some don’t. The number of proposals and their size varies. The type of proposals also makes a difference. To find the right solution for your organization, we need to get to know each other. Once you’ve had a chance to play with the formula it will give us something to talk about.

Let's discuss your challenges with preparing proposals and winning new business...

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More information about "Carl Dickson"

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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