By Kim Watters
As a Proposal Manager, I talk to my clients about their expectations and experiences with proposals and proposal professionals. A common theme I hear is “we are looking for a Proposal Manager to win this for us” or “We need to win more proposals, so we’re looking to bring on a new Proposal Manager in 2017”. My response is to ask the client how they expect the Proposal Manager to increase their win rate. Of course, a Proposal Manager brings a certain level of expertise and organization, especially for company that finds themselves now operating at a higher level than when they first opened their doors. However, there is much more a Proposal Manager can do to help you win more business. In this article, I present five ways a Proposal Manager can help you increase the number of times you hear yourself referred to as “…the Successful Bidder….”.
Proposal Portfolio Analysis
You have an idea of why you were unsuccessful in your past two or three bids. Perhaps your firm was not the lowest bidder or your management plan did not meet the Government’s needs. What you need to know are the overall trends regarding the weaknesses, challenges, and successes of all your proposals for at least the past 12 months. Using both internal and external resources, a savvy Proposal Manager can provide you with a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal efforts. Armed with this intel, you can begin to make the necessary corrections to win more business in 2017. Your firm may consistently offer the lowest price and the “fix” to win may be bringing on different expertise to ensure that your narrative (and the rest of your response) is technical acceptable.
Once you correctly identify the “challenge areas” of your proposals, you will be able to address those issues and in turn put out proposals with a greater chance of winning.
Pricing to Win
Pricing is often the most perplexing aspect of responding to an RFP and unfortunately there are no pricing shortcuts or crystal balls to help. A well-rounded Proposal Manager can increase your wins by ensuring that the rates in the pricing volume are competitive and germane for that unique opportunity. In this LPTA era, are you pricing so that you are challenging your competitors or are you only challenging your wallet? There are some areas that are more expensive to operate in, so you may never achieve both profitable and sustainable pricing against a company with lower overhead or leaner operations.
If you want to win more contracts, your Proposal Manager must work with your accounting and financial functions to create pricing that is a win-win for you and the Government.
Appropriate Opportunity Identification
One way to win more proposals is to bid on more proposals. How do you determine which proposals you should bid on and more importantly how do you find opportunities in a manner that allows you the time for capture planning, developing a team, and calculating competitive opportunity-specific pricing? I’m sure it will not surprise you when I say, “better call your Proposal Manager”. A strong and knowledgeable Proposal Manager can provide your business development, sales, and account managers with the background data and information necessary to target and capture business. At this stage, the Proposal Manager’s duty is to take all of the data available about upcoming procurements and turn it into reasonable intel that your company can use to its competitive advantage.
You will win more business if your proposal is the result of well-informed and strategic capture planning and meetings between the client and your company.
One of the most awesome things I have seen in my past 20 years in Government procurement is an explosion of information, training, and wikis on how to manage proposals. There is an emphasis on the parts of the proposal or how to form a response, but very little on the process itself. As mentioned in my last article (insert link here), proposal management is project management and every firm needs to create, document, and adjust that process accordingly. If your process leaves you stressed, frazzled or does not produce results –a Proposal Manager is the right option to create and implement a Proposal Process that works for your company. Every company is unique and based upon your budget, resources, and business inclinations, the optimal process can be designed for your organization.
If you already have a proposal process, you should tweak your process every time your company reaches a significant milestone. For example, your proposal process may expand to create additional levels of review as your company increases in size or expands geographically.
Having a Proposal Manager create and implement an organized efficient and effective proposal process is a sign of growth and maturity, as well as a way to win more proposals (while stressing less!)
GovRealm, led by Kim Watters, keenly understands the work involved and relationship between capture planning, business development, and proposal management. With proficiencies in staff training, process re-engineering/optimization, technology upgrades, and on-going professional development, Kim has built a company that respects the challenges of Government procurement while tackling them fearlessly. Kim teaches her staff and clients to approach the sometimes crazy world of procurement with organization, objectives, and realism. As a workshop facilitator and presenter on very technical topics such as the 8a application, marketing to the Federal government, and proposal management, Kim knows the importance of engaging her clients and delivering relevant information. Her team has spent decades managing strategic projects for clients focused on proposal development, maximizing 8(a) certification and correctly obtaining and using Government, and socio-economic certifications. Kim and GovRealm are committed to winning.