Super-smart resources to help you win
Even during the height of technology and business proposal software, proposal writing teams still face many challenges to complete their projects in a timely and efficient manner. Proposal writing difficulty is consistent throughout different industries and at organizations of various sizes.
In this article, we will focus on 10 key challenges in proposal writing processes and team management.
Proposal writers do the writing. It takes motivated and skilled proposal teams to craft winning documents. Unfortunately, teams that are beyond observing errors are already unmotivated, but it is not too late to reverse the damage.
Professional development specialists suggest regular team building exercises are effective to encourage open and honest communication in proposal teams. Practical workshops that strategize skill development help teams re-energize. Detailed questions must be asked and answered, while role responsibilities are revisited.
Once there is collective understanding and agreement on proposal development, refreshed guidelines and exercise takeaways should be made available in a shared portal for future reference.
Proposals can never meet a “one size fits all” standard. Customer needs change constantly and so should your proposed solution. Boilerplate content must be updated for every proposal or your proposal won’t be client focused.
Some content can be recycled, but it is vital for proposal teams to continuously review all text and not become comfortable with blindly reusing boilerplate content. Boilerplate can become “stale” if not consistently revised to capture creativity and your company’s updates as well.
Tailoring bid strategy avoids the “one size fits all” blunder. Map your proposal to the new requirements identified in the new bid strategy.
Proposal teams should include capable and knowledgeable professionals because proposal development requires a range of expertise and skillsets, including technical and persuasive writing. The process is collaborative and more effective with diverse teams, whereas teams that are all men or ethnically similar miss the opportunity to leverage diverse ideas that stem from different backgrounds.
Tailoring a winning proposal starts with engaging those diverse ideas and effectively creating a cohesive solution.
Managers who value diversity and inclusion understand the benefits of hiring diverse staff. Customer requirements often demands diversity as well. Perhaps staff with different levels of education or other professional training and certifications will make associates suitable for customer needs. Remember, staff serve as solutions in the same way as advanced software.
Pricing is an essential component of proposal management, but unfortunately, it is often underattended during bids. It is one of the primary deciding factors for contract award, so managers must develop a strategy to win. Research the competition for benchmarks, understand your market, ensure cost to volume ratio is acceptable, and clearly define the benefits of a quality solution to support your cost proposal.
Winning new business should be strategic. Poor leadership tends to authorize random RFP selection or capture information on broad ranges of prospective customers. Poor strategy will negatively impact win rate, but often proposal managers will only understand that after trial and error.
Proposal managers must be skilled in capture planning, give consistent feedback to their teams, and provide guidelines for structured and streamlined processes.
Challenge #5 brings us to poor bid strategy. Poor bid strategy is almost guaranteed to cause thousands of dollars in losses for your company at every opportunity. Management should have a structure for bid evaluation and capture management in place that can provide trusted results. Resources and time beyond the proposal team must be dedicated to a bid, so understanding when that is or is not necessary is crucial for long-term success.
It is a good idea for proposal writers to understand capture management so they can be an integral part of RFP evaluation.
Poor review processes hinder quality proposal development. Everyone, even experienced writers, must have their work reviewed. Proposals are too immense in size and importance to go without a quality review. There’s too much time and money involved to leave document quality to chance.
Use review checklists or guidelines for reviewers to increase win rates.
As stated in challenge #3, a well-rounded and diverse proposal team helps develop a successful proposal writing process. Subject matter experts provide the technical information for the technical proposal, yet these SMEs are often engaged with several other projects at a time. Employ a wide array of SMEs to avoid missing requirements or providing an irrelevant solution in the proposal. An internal database of stored SME contact information, as well as a content library of technical content, will allow you to access the SME expertise you need on demand.
Team skill development is another way to gain the SME support you desire over time.
Deadlines are given for a reason. Time is money. When the first eight challenges are reoccurring, deadlines are missed. Be proactive in mitigating these challenges to establish the structure that works best for your business and proposal writing process. Quality structure ensures you never miss a deadline or contract opportunity.
Proposal writing starts at the end of the business development lifecycle. RFP responses that begin before significant capture planning of a new opportunity are bound for failure.
Great effort must be given to capture planning and proposal writing to be successful. Companies that spend more than half of the budgeted time on capture planning enjoy high win rates because this ensures clear understanding of win strategy and th