The proposal development lifecycle of a proposal starts way before the RFP is received. Many proposal writers seldom seem to pay attention to this. It could be because they do not know. Sometimes, it could be because they are not informed although they think it is crucial for them to understand. However, most often, it is because they do not have the right tools to help them manage and curate this information throughout the proposal development lifecycle. In this article, we want to stress what information you must collect, and where you must begin. Collecting information never ends, but at a bare minimum this article will tell you what to gather during the proposal development lifecycle to make your proposal persuasive, informative, and most importantly- intelligent.
It starts with the sales team identifying the right market for you to penetrate. Your market research teams identify and explore target markets and assess your potential to succeed in the market. Then, the benchmark your capabilities and figure out if the market is already saturated with similar players offering similar solutions. Once they have figured that out, they define a clear strategy that reduces the impact of your competition’s strengths and increases the effectiveness of your organization’s strengths. It would be great to have a proposal management software that will track these parameters- as often, this critical information gets lost in a pile of irrelevant email threads.
It is critical for any proposal author or manager to be aware of the inputs derived from previous phases of the lifecycle. Otherwise, when they write the proposal, the proposal will be void of the vital win themes that can be obtained from market assessment and strategic targeting. Therefore a proposal management software that tracks all these elements is so essential to business success
Once the market penetration strategy is developed, the organization must market the product or services they specialize in. They must implement their marketing strategy as planned, lest the potential customer misunderstands what we have to offer. In this phase, the marketing agents must note and track the conversations with potential customers, what they have to say about their needs and requirements. A proposal management software with opportunity management and assessment tools will be a great addition here to pick the right opportunities to pursue. The collection of this information and its effective duration is essential, and yet oft-ignored part of the proposal development lifecycle.
At this point, the sales team needs to circle down on the right opportunities to pursue. They must pick the battles that they can win, lest they waste their resources and energy on dreams and mirages they cannot feasibly reach. They must keep records of the strategy using a proposal management software so that those who are working on the proposal will know the strategy to implement in the writing
Once the marketing has been completed and customers are aware, the opportunities available must be assessed and funneled out. For this, the proposal development team and the sales teams must participate together in industry briefings, customer intelligence reports, and gathering specific program intelligence. At this phase, the customer’s requirements must be understood, and an initial position with the customer must be cultivated. Competitors strategies and how to overcome them must be an essential part of the opportunity assessment phase. Once all this information is collected, preferably on a proposal management software/ platform, the opportunity pursuit decision (also called Go/ No-Go decision) must be taken. Usually, organizations do not consider this information and seldom pass it on to the next and more crucial stage of the proposal development lifecycle- where the business proposal is written and developed.
The Bid Decision must be based on the answers to the following questions at a minimum:
- Does the opportunity fit within our capabilities?
- Who is the incumbent? Can we partner with the incumbent?
- Do we have a good relationship with the customer?
- Do we know and understand the client’s needs, goals and the impact of the solution?
- Do we possess the resources and commitment to pull this off?
- Can we deliver the proposal within the right timeframe?
It is important not just to ask these questions but also to keep the outcome within a system that can be accessed by those who are working on the proposal. If we do not have a systematic way of preserving and obtaining this crucial information, it is very likely that our win rates will succumb to the pits. A proposal management software will help to save this information and allow relevant members to access it throughout the proposal development lifecycle
Once the opportunity assessment phase is completed, we arrive at the proposal development phase. In this scenario, we either get the RFP from the customer, or we write a proactive proposal. The proposal manager must study the RFP or the statement of client requests to thoroughly understand the customer’s stated and unstated needs. Inferences need to be made, but of course, within the confines of logic. Any clarifications required are to be duly noted and circulated within the teams that are authoring the proposal. Once this is done, the team responsible must initiate a kick-off call and progress towards the development of the proposal from thereon.
The average proposal has about 100 micro iterations and ten major iterations throughout its lifecycle. Having the proposal in a single location where teams work collaboratively is a key to bidding and proposal success. We recommend using software like Zbizlink which can help you throughout the proposal development lifecycle. From capture management to opportunity assessment. From proposal development to final strategic reviews- Zbizlink helps you throughout the breadth and span of the proposal development lifecycle.