Improving the quality of proposal content with the APB Writing Model – Part 3

Getting your team on board with APB

In the last two posts, I introduced the APB writing methodology to improve the quality of your proposal content and help reticent writers on your team. In this post, I will wrap up the series by sharing some approaches to get your team on board and indoctrinate APB as the standard for all your proposals. How to get buy-in and commitment will vary depending on your context, but I’ve provided some general tips for implementation.

I recommend introducing the APB writing concept to the broadest group of people involved in your proposals as possible. Your writers and SMEs need to understand how to do what you’re asking of them. Reviewers need to be aware of what you’re asking the writers to do so they can have informed reviews. As you cover the APB principles, your reviewers will understand how to review proposals like evaluators do as you expose them to their scoring and benefits-focused mindset. Coordinators and editors will benefit from a session so they understand how they can support your mission within their roles.

A meeting with this broad of a group kick starts the APB implementation process, setting a new standard across the board. A successful group meeting will facilitate discussion and a common understanding. After this meeting, you’ll have the materials developed to indoctrinate proposal teammates from other companies and any new hires.

The key to learning is saturation, so you’ll need to reinforce the concept again after the first meeting. In every kickoff meeting, review these writing standards with all participants. Setting the expectation at the beginning of the process gives you leverage to hold them accountable later in the process. It allows you to answer questions, and it brings any new team members into the fold.

Continue this practice, even if you have teammates from another company at your kickoff. You may feel like you’re giving away the recipe to your secret sauce, but this information isn’t proprietary to your company. Not sharing the APB method with them from the start weakens the proposal content and complicates your management of the bid. Whether your kickoff is internal only or includes teammates, be sure that everyone on the team understands the process and has handouts for future reference. A good handout will include a brief description of APB (feel free to take content from this blog post!) along with a clear example of APB from your company’s materials.

As a final step, I recommend checking in with your writers individually prior to the first deadline so you can see their work and guide them if they’re headed in the wrong direction. The process is time-consuming, but it’s worth the investment for your team to have a positive and successful first experience with APB. In my experience, writers appreciate the structure of APB and return to it even when it isn’t required because it makes writing so much easier.

Continue to review these writing standards in every kickoff, and use the APB language throughout reviews and debriefs until it becomes a part of your company’s proposal culture.

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Julia Quigley has worked on a variety of Federal Health IT task orders and large federal proposals. With a Master’s in Rhetoric and Composition, she has created proposal writing strategies and conducted training to help technical subject matter experts (SMEs) understand how to respond clearly and compellingly to solicitation requirements. Prior to joining Lohfeld Consulting Group, Julia managed proposals for small and mid-sized federal contractors and taught introductory writing and persuasive writing classes at Texas State University. She applies the lessons she taught as well as lessons learned to all her writing and training projects.