Ask the Proposal Doctor – Dying of Boredom

Dear Proposal Doctor,

My team is dying of boredom, and I am afraid they will all quit. We haven’t seen an RFP in over 3 months, and this is a hard-working proposal team that thrives on adrenaline.

How can I keep everyone motivated? These dry spells are very hard to manage.


Dear Dying,

The proposal business is spikey and probably always will be. Periods of frantic activity followed by weeks of nothingness – this appears to be the new normal. Government procurements are now regularly delayed, and commercial acquisitions have their own form of quirkiness and unpredictability.

The time in between proposals is incredibly valuable. This is the time to rest up, and then to sharpen the knives and get prepared for the next big surge. Here are some areas where all proposal teams can improve:

  1. Does your team really understand the products or solutions? This knowledge can be very helpful and can reduce reliance on subject matter experts (SMEs).
  2. Does everyone on your team have and understand how to use the most recent versions of your desktop tools? The time in between proposals is the ideal time for training.
  3. What needs to be improved in your proposal process? Have you looked at every step to see how you can create efficiencies and reduce stress?
  4. Have you organized the material that you reuse on each proposal?
  5. Have you and your team read the latest books and articles on proposal development to see if there are new methodologies that you should test? Now would be a good time for a trial run…

When you attack these tasks, remember what all parents know about small children: structure is everything. Don’t tell someone to reorganize 10 years of boilerplate. Assign specific, bite-sized projects with defined end dates. Create contests, teams, presentations, or any other approach that conforms to your organization and its culture.

You will be glad you made this investment. Many people envy the opportunity you have, so please make good use of it!

All the Best,

Wendy Frieman, The Proposal Doctor