Your Mother Was Right

She’s been there for you through thick and thin, through scraped knees and broken hearts, first dates and new jobs. She may not have always been up on the latest trends, but two things are for sure; mom always had your back and her advice always had your best interests in mind.

Did she know that one day you would work in the hectic world of proposal management? Probably not, but her wise advice still holds true, as much as we hate to admit it.

Here are 5 of mom’s best life advice tips that, whether she realizes it or not, proves she knows a thing or two about proposal management.

#1 Size doesn’t matter

Well, at least not when it comes to the size of your proposal. The trick is to respond to the size of the opportunity with the appropriately sized process. Large businesses take on larger opportunities, so they deploy more steps and milestones, for example more review cycles. Smaller opportunities typically require less cycles. So look at the size of the opportunity and establish the appropriate number of cycles against the deadline.

How do you do that?

Tailor an automated process workflow for each opportunity size, or size range, you are targeting this year. Defining your workflow now, and educating your team on the details, will save time when the RFP drops. Time you and your team can invest in compliance and quality, especially on a short turnaround. Having a proposal management solution that can handle multiple workflows at once, while letting you adjust them on-the-fly, mid-proposal, will also deliver the flexibility you need to quickly scale your process to larger and larger opportunities as things change and you grow.

#2 Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all

Proposal work can be hectic, stressful, and downright exhausting. There is almost always a time-crunch, a jam-packed schedule, a host of remote players, and way, way too much email. It’s frustrating for everyone. It can make us feel powerless and anxious. So it’s no surprise that, sometimes, as the clock winds down, nerves occasionally fray, and passions sometimes flare. If you find your team caught in a heated debate, sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.

How do you do that?

Consider showing instead of telling. In the fast past world of capture and proposal management, and way, way too many emails, it’s easy to lose track of the details. Remember, where there is confusion, ambiguity and stress, there can also be frustration that leads to debate. And sometimes revealing information can improve the outcome. For example, don’t tell your team the schedule; show it to them in a centralized way that keeps them up-to-date automatically. Don’t tell them their assignments; show them how their assignments fit in the larger proposal puzzle by centralizing tasks and deadlines. Don’t tell them the win themes; show them by centralizing the document and opening it up for discussion you can capture and track for later reference. Winning proposals take collaboration, and winning proposal management takes negotiation – and having the right tools to help your team “see” their work in action speaks louder than words.

#3 Everything in moderation

People planning to binge on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel this weekend may disagree, but “everything in moderation” is an important key to a balanced life, and a balanced proposal management solution. For example, while an auto-build tool, backed by a robust knowledge base, can help your team past the “blank page” it will not deliver the quality proposal evaluators crave for the win like real-time team collaboration will. When it comes to successful proposal management it’s not “all or nothing,” it’s “everything in moderation.”

How do you do that?

Stop trying to replace the art of writing a winning proposal with the mechanics of the proposal process. Your solution should balance the tools you need to manage the process – from a “search and find” first draft through collaborative writing, reviewing, and revising. Because winning capture and proposal management takes team collaboration as well as content management.

#4 It’s Not the end of the world

OK, you were not selected. The team worked hard on that proposal, it was good, really good, and yet the evaluation team scored you out of the next phase. It’s frustrating, it’s scary, but it’s not the end of the world. The earth is still spinning, the bees are still pollinating flowers (for now), and you’ve got another proposal to pull together – another opportunity to improve and win. So, mourn the loss, because, well, losing sucks. Then get busy working on a plan to get your team back on their feet.

How do you do that?

Report and analyze and use the results to drive your Lessons Learned forward toward improvement. One of the core benefits of a centralized capture and proposal management solution is that all of the work is being performed in one place. That means, as the system of record, you can use standard reports or configure customized reports and dashboards to monitor real-time activity status as well as report on process improvements. In fact, you can facilitate a nearly limitless variety of data displays and analysis including KPIs.

#5 Get some sleep

Exhaustion doesn’t come out of nowhere; it can come from that series of tight-turnarounds last month or that big opportunity you’ve been working on since last year or a combination of the two. Whichever it is, when exhaustion and fatigue set in, when a night’s sleep isn’t enough to refuel and a weekend isn’t enough to refresh, it’s time for structural change in your work process so you can get the sleep you need to avoid the fatigue. Because exhausted teams cannot build standout solutions or write winning proposals.

How do you do that?

Manage your team’s time more wisely. Try analyzing the labor required for each task and talking to your team about their full-time job commitments. Building a schedule that helps them better balance their full-time commitments with their proposal responsibilities will put more quality proposal time on their plate. Now, centralize that proposal schedule calendar so your team never, ever needs to waste precious time searching email for it again.

Give your review team ample time to read – and think. Start with a centralized calendar schedule they can access online – color-coded by review cycle – with real-time updates, so they can keep pace with any changes. Try granting access to review documents in smaller chunks at the end of the day.

Flexibility helps, so let reviewers decide when and where they want to review with real-time access anytime, anywhere, including their Smart Phones and Tablets. Never forget that people need rest. Be sure to take time to restore your energy as well so you can be there for the team.

Mom may never have managed a proposal, wrangled a virtual team, or written a compliance matrix late into the night, but boy does her advice ring true. Thanks, Mom.

Download 5 Ways to Bridge the Sales-Proposal Gap