Pounded by Pricing

Dear Proposal Doctor,

Please help. I am mid-way through a large and important government bid. The two or three people who have all the knowledge we need to document the solution are in pricing meetings that go on for hours, and by the time they start working on the non-price aspects of the proposal, they are exhausted and not productive.

I’m worried that we are going to miss interim deadlines and have to rush through our reviews and document production cycles. I don’t know what to do because the pricing activity is like a “black box” to those of us who are not involved.

How can I change the priorities of these key people?

Pounded by Pricing

Dear Pounded,

Actually, it might be your priorities that need to change. Although proposal managers have often steered clear of pricing, it is an essential element of the proposal and one that is often not efficiently managed. If you got engaged with pricing, you could probably rationalize the process and speed things up.

But there are other, more compelling reasons for you to start paying close attention to this activity. Decisions being made in those pricing meetings are certain to affect the rest of the proposal, and the sooner you know what those decisions are, the better. Likewise, the people engaged in pricing need to know what is going on in the other areas of the proposal, particularly anything that involves purchases of equipment, assignment or hiring of people, and real estate and facilities needed to meet RFP requirements.

Although some pricing models are detailed and technical, many are easy to understand. If you don’t understand what is going on, ask someone to explain. This will let you make a judgment as to whether the long meetings are really necessary or simply an attractive alternative to writing proposal text.

Ultimately, you can’t be responsible for the proposal document if you are not engaged in all facets of it—there are too many interdependencies. So step up, and even if you can’t speed the process up, you are likely to gain valuable knowledge and skills.

All the best,

Wendy Frieman, The Proposal Doctor