Managing proposals often seems like it has as much to do with anticipating and overcoming problems as it does with winning. Every time you turn around, it seems like there is a new obstacle in your path. A proposal process is more than just the steps you need to prepare a proposal. In many ways, a proposal process is more about how to navigate your way through the problems you anticipate. Here’s a list of 12 problems you can expect to face on your way to winning new business. All you need to do is figure out how to anticipate them, mitigate them before they occur, and overcome them when they do occur. Your approach to doing that is your proposal process.
- Identifying leads. The role of sales is to close leads. The role of marketing is to identify the best sources of leads (or markets) and position your company to bring you into contact with them. If you don’t have enough leads, it’s not a sales problem it’s a marketing problem. What market are you in, is it big enough to meet your needs, and are you positioned to get your share of it?
- Getting intelligence. You can’t write to the customer’s preferences, make the right trade-off decisions, or overcome RFP ambiguities if you don’t have information beyond what’s in the RFP.
- Competitive advantage. If you don’t have any, it’s a sign of a process problem. Either the right information was not gathered, it wasn’t properly assessed, or you did not give enough consideration to no-bidding.
- With the RFP. Does the RFP contain provisions that you can’t live with? Is it ambiguous? Is it too detailed? Is it overly ambitious?
- Qualifying to bid. You may be able to do the work or supply what is needed, but do you have all of the qualifications that are required?
- Getting the proposal started. Do you swing into action the moment the RFP is released, or do you waste critical time deciding and motivating before actually doing?
- Preparing proposal plans. Are you ready, with the information and planning templates you need to quickly complete a set of documented proposal plans upon RFP release? Do you have the discipline to complete and validate your plans before starting to write the proposal?
- Implementing proposal plans. Will your plan survive the real world? Will all of your assumptions pan out? Will you have the resources required? Also, will everyone involved follow the process? Does everyone have the same expectations regarding the plans and their implementation?
- Executing the proposal. Will proposal contributors meet expectations? Will your plans achieve the desired results? Will assignments be completed and include everything they were supposed to? Will they have sufficient quality? Will they be completed on time? Will they reflect the right style and formatting? Will the result reflect the win strategies, themes, and other attributes required to win the proposal?
- With proposal reviews. It’s not simply a matter of whether each draft will pass its review. It’s a matter of whether both writers and reviewers will meet each other’s expectations.
- During production. Will production begin on time? Will you be able to successfully manage the time remaining? Will everyone maintain process discipline and compliance through final production? Will you be able to complete your quality assurance steps as planned?
- Pricing. Will you be able to price low enough to win but high enough to meet your profitability targets?
The MustWin Process that comes with a Premium Membership is built to solve the kind of problems you face in winning new business