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Building a Winning Proposal Response Team – Part 2

Miss part 1 of this blog post series? Read it here!

Successful small business contractors have functional teams with all proposal roles filled. This is where knowledge about your in-house talents – and your creativity about how to allocate those resources – becomes extremely important.

Decide on an executive champion, which can be the owner. Executive champion is the only role the owner should play. Embrace this mantra. The owner is too busy with other distractions to serve as proposal manager.

Begin by conducting an assessment of existing resources – base this on skills, not on titles – for each of the key proposal team functions. Then, select your proposal team functional structure. Finally, identify functional gaps between your existing resources and your selected proposal team structure. Large companies tend to have all key roles filled by experts in each area. Small companies must get creative about how they allocate their resources. In a small business setting, proposal team members typically fill multiple roles and are not 100% dedicated to bid responses.

Based on your gap analysis of functional resources, decide whether you need to hire a proposal manager. Ensure the job description matches your company’s format and style, with customization for the role they will play in your company.

With your position description is in place, determine success measures and communicate them through the recruitment process and the interviews. Common performance measures for the proposal manager are conversion rate, adherence to deadlines, progress toward sales goals, and scores from agency evaluators.

Select the appropriate reporting structure for your company. Proposal management is a sales function, yet is unique from capture. If a director-level fits in the organization, this is ideal because it offers credibility with internal team members regarding deadlines. If your company has a strong sales focus, consider having the Proposal Manager report to the VP of Sales and Marketing. If your company is more strongly focused on engineering or operations, consider having the Proposal Manager report to a VP level in this area.

Develop your hiring plan, with behavior-based questions to weed out the talkers from the doers. Common competencies for Proposal Managers are:

  • Attention to Detail
  • Collaboration
  • Deadline Responsiveness
  • Follow Up
  • Leadership
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Written Communication
  • And, Time Management

The B&P effort requires resources – both people and technology. Technology supports proposal management through effective dashboards, tracking systems, and proposal library tools. Based on your gap analysis of functional resources, decide what investments in people you need to make. This could be as simple as a restructuring or as complex as the addition of an entire proposal team.

Allow your proposal team to help determine investments in proposal organization and reporting tools. Develop budgetary parameters for resource investment so the proposal team understands the expectations and has clarity about your wishes.

With these steps in mind, you're on your way to building a winning proposal response team! Need a dedicated effort for your proposal management and bid writing? Contact our team today!

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