Proposal Management Intersection: Business Development & Proposal Team

Proposal management is the best practice process of leading a team through the written portion of the sales cycle. Throughout, there are experts to wrangle and tasks and schedules to monitor. There is content to find, write, and tailor to customer goals. There are review cycles to referee, version control to worry about, and a relentless commitment to compliance and quality required; all despite a geographically diverse team’s shifting priorities.

Crafting a winning proposal is a time-consuming business investment. Thankfully there are many best practice approaches that can make winning a reality. Whatever approach you define, success requires collaboration. Collaboration promotes a team conversation with a center, rather than from all sides, so that everyone is on the same page. It aligns capture strategy with writing execution to reduce revision cycles. It drives consensus so the team focuses on advancing proposal quality given the time available.

In this four-part Blog series, we will explore proposal management with a focus on cultivating collaboration to reduce time and increase proposal quality.

Where Business Development Meets Proposal Team

Collaboration typically begins where the business development and proposal management team meet in the sales cycle; qualifying an opportunity. We like to think of this step as the Intersection: where the team shares opportunity information, asks solution and strategy questions, agrees to invest in the bid, and outlines the capture strategy. Experience demonstrates that the more collaborative this Intersection is, the more time your team will save to invest in proposal quality.

How to Achieve Collaborative Intersection

Proposals are persuasive documents; structured logical written arguments that lay out everything in favor of your solution. The information gathered during Intersection is the key to writing persuasively; customer needs and goals, how you’ll address them, how you’ll position your solution and its benefits and the proof you’ll use to demonstrate your experience. Effective Intersection collaboration defines these details for the team up front, so they can write quickly and persuasively.

There are three simple process changes you can make to achieve a collaborative Intersection. The key is to begin early, even as soon as the opportunity is a mere twinkle in your sales representative’s eye.

  • Gain an Early Advantage. As much of a “killer-app” email is, it is not well suited for collaboration; lengthy text, convoluted threads, and the “back-and-forth” effect can leave your team confused and frustrated, or worse, turning to a different task. Instead of sending another email, publish opportunity details in a secure, central location. Centralizing this collaboration, from pre-sales to RFP to capture strategy, provides your team with easy access to the details that will define your capture strategy as they evolve. 
  • Engage in Questions, Capture the Answers. There are lots of things to consider when qualifying a bid. What are the customer’s pains and goals? How will our solution address them? What proofs do we have that we can do the work? Is the RFP hard-wired for someone else? Answers to these types of questions help the team “face the facts” about the bid so you’re not tilting at windmills. Automatically capturing these types of questions and answers keeps the team from recreating the wheel when it's time to hone the capture strategy and write the proposal. 
  • Collaborate on Capture Strategy. A capture strategy defines how you will close the sale, and it is developed as the team goes through the process of qualifying the bid. Centralizing this collaboration invites the team to react, ask questions, discuss details, and come to a clear understanding of how they’ll capture the opportunity with their written proposal. When this information is captured and shared, your team moves more quickly to the writing phase, and eliminates questions in the minds of the team as they are writing.   

By harnessing the collaborative energy of your team during the Intersection of business development and proposal team, you’ll move quickly, remain agile, make better investment decisions, and focus writing and reviewing time on quality. By centralizing Intersection collaboration, you’ll make proposal development faster and easier.

Read on for the second Blog of this four-part series focused on cultivating team collaboration to reduce time and increase proposal quality: Team Interplay.

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