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

New to the capture- or proposal-related profession or a seasoned veteran, you’ve had experiences that you can share to help all of us (new and “battle hardened”)  improve our professional and personal management and interpersonal skills, abilities, and focus.

I recently asked a number of my colleagues to share 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.

We wrap up our industry-leaders’ advice here in this final part of my 3-part series.

  • Get clear definition of your role at a very granular level. This might sound like over-engineering, but it will pay off if everyone has the same expectations as to exactly what you are going to be responsible for and accountable for. Typically, descriptions of roles are written at a high level; this leaves lots of room for different interpretations and expectations.Wendy Frieman, APMP Fellow and Principal Consultant, Lohfeld Consulting Group
  • Here’s my top-10 list for someone starting out in capture/proposal or any practice area for that matter:
  1. Find your industry niche and your passion
  2. Build trusting relationships (managers, peers, subordinates, customers, partners)
  3. Stay current with new/emerging best practices (accreditation)
  4. Make/take time for yourself
  5. Share the credit for your successes, and take responsibility for your failures
  6. Take constructive criticism seriously, and learn from your mistakes
  7. Give back to your profession
  8. Be ethical in everything you do
  9. Your customer(s) always come first
  10. Work hard and have fun (easy to say…hard to do)

Chris Simmons, Principal, Rainmakerz Consulting, LLC

  • Be flexible: master as many different aspects of the business as you can so that you provide the maximum value to your employer or client. –Pat Cosimano, Owner of Pat Cosimano Wins LLC
  • One of the most valuable things I learned during a few years in direct marketing is the importance of verisimilitude, a fun-to-say word that describes the appearance of truth. The yellow note stuck to the sales letter that says, “Chris, check this out!” in blue cursive ink loses its verisimilitude the moment Chris realizes the handwriting is an electronic font. The realistic movie loses it when the hero jumps out of the helicopter, lands on a log, and rides it down the mountain to safety. And, proposals lose verisimilitude the moment evaluators read, “Our Quality Manger is a stickier for details [sic],” or “Our solution is entirely risk-free,” or “We are the leading IT solution provider in the industry.” –David C. Hilnbrand, Principal Consultant, DC Proposal Services, LLC
  • Learn everything you can about the roles and responsibilities of the people who will be on your bid teams. Always be honest with the team and management about the status of the bid you are working on, and escalate whenever you need to. Don’t be afraid to say “NO” to unreasonable requests! –Deborah Brooks, Sr. Regional Bid Manager, TATA Communications
  • These are the positions that are the most fun in corporations because you will work with the company’s best and brightest leaders. You will work harder than you have ever worked before, and you must love the challenge to be successful. Learn all that you can about everything you are doing, and always focus on what the customer needs and wants. The one who best understands what the customer wants will likely win. As I like to say, “Best informed wins.” –Bob Lohfeld, CEO, Lohfeld Consulting Group

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!


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