Expert advice for starting out in capture and proposal-related positions – Part 1 of 3

Whether you’re relatively new to the capture- or proposal-related profession or are a seasoned veteran, there are things you’ve learned that you can share with all of us that can help us improve our professional and personal management and interpersonal skills, abilities, and focus.

I recently asked a number of my colleagues to contribute their best advice for someone starting out in a capture or proposal-related position, e.g., proposal manager, capture manager, proposal coordinator, graphics, writer, pricer, etc.

Here is part 1 of my 3-part series sharing their advice.

  • Acquire an experienced mentor(s) either within your company, a professional association, or a private capture/proposal consulting company. Join the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) to obtain access to its large library of information and best practices. Obtain formal training either through reading books, attending classes, or listening to webinars. Review the trade papers to learn more about who is winning in your industry and learn how they differentiate themselves. Implement a standard and repeatable process for capture, proposal, and pricing within your organization that is supported by executives. Acquire and learn how to use tools to expedite proposal schedule management, knowledge management, collaboration, graphics, and configuration management. –Brenda Crist, APMP Fellow and Principal Consultant at Lohfeld Consulting Group
  • First, take a good course to learn (or solidify your knowledge of) best practices. Next, be an honest broker for your client. They deserve our best advice, even when it contradicts internal conventional wisdom. –Maury Sweetin, Capture Manager/Proposal Manager/Red Team Captain/Volume Lead, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  • Learn effective time management skills and remove the term “late” from your vocabulary. (And remember, a well-fed proposal team is a productive proposal team!). Randy Richter, President, Richter & Company
    Nothing substitutes for experience. Get training, participate in professional conferences and events, but you will still need to experience numerous proposal cycles before you become competent.Lisa Pafe, Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  • Focus on winning. There is a lot that goes into a proposal, and it is easy to lose sight of the goal – winning. Keep your eye on the prize during the proposal storm.Hamid Moinamin, President, Inserso
  • In general, anyone starting out in proposals would benefit from doing two things: one, approaching everyone they meet (at work, at networking events, etc.) with an eye towards learning and sharing, and two, making sure your family and friends understand the pace and potential stress level of the proposal environment – you will need their support to make proposals your career!Colleen Jolly, Principal, 24 Hour Company
  • Empathize with your team and client. I find that when I actively seek to understand (e.g., ask questions, listen, research) I get MUCH better results. I attribute a lot of my success as a proposal professional to this approach. Additionally, do what you love. I am passionate about visual communication and it shows. I have been told my enthusiasm is infectious. Doing what I do makes me happy. Good things come from this. –Mike Parkinson, Principal, 24 Hour Company

What advice would you share with someone new (or experienced) in the capture and proposal field? Send an email to me at with your thoughts, and I’ll share your advice in upcoming posts!

by Beth Wingate