Planning your proposal is critical to ensuring that you have enough time to develop, write, and produce a well-thought-out response to the client’s requirement. Everyone who writes proposals on a regular basis wishes they had planned better, started earlier, and stayed late on numerous occasions to deal with an unsatisfactory and incomplete proposal.
Consider proposals to be small projects – create a plan. Consider all the pertinent issues you must address – how will you resolve their issue? How have you previously completed similar work? Who will be responsible for the project’s implementation? Do you require subcontractors or partners to assist you in completing the project? Who will be responsible for the proposal’s development? How are you going to present yourself to the client to win?
Ascertain that you are prioritising bid opportunities and allocating your best resources to the most critical opportunities for your organisation. Consider which contract is more critical. Is it the high-value opportunity that will eat up all of your time and resources over the next few months? or is it the smaller project that enables you to continue working on other client work concurrently? Whichever is the most critical, prioritise your bids and give each one the attention it deserves.
As with any project, set and adhere to deadlines and allot resources to complete tasks when writing proposals. This is assumed when working on a client project, but is occasionally overlooked when working on internal “sales” projects. To succeed, proposal writers and sales teams must manage and run their projects efficiently as well… and keep in mind that one surefire way to lose a contract is to fail to submit your proposal on time. Do not jeopardise several weeks’ worth of work by arriving 30 minutes late with the document.
Unless you are an independent contractor, delegation of proposal tasks to qualified team members is recommended. This allows for more time to be spent on each section of the proposal and ensures that each section is written by the most qualified member of your team. If you have available expertise, ensure that it can be used in your proposals. When delegating, ensure that everyone understands and adheres to the deadlines. Everyone needs to understand that this is a significant project for which you are the project manager.
Always allow time for document production. Ascertain that everything is capable of being produced and reviewed in its final form prior to submission. The last thing you want is for a well-written proposal to come across poorly as a result of hastily assembled materials at the last minute. Ascertain that the printer is operational, that you have sufficient paper, and that you have sufficient time to receive it. Arrange for a courier in advance.
Having a well-defined process in place can significantly reduce the time required between projects and result in highly organised proposals that consistently meet quality standards. Many people undervalue the importance of proper proposal planning; do not be one of them.