Tips for hiring proposal consultants

Companies are tightening their belts and trying to do more with less while maintaining an exemplary win rate. Hiring proposal consultants is an excellent way to add part-time or on-call support while retaining your company’s valued workforce and not burning them out. In addition, experienced consultants are used to jumping into the fray, working under tight deadlines, and helping companies generate high-scoring proposals.

Finding consultants who are the right fit for your company involves identifying the type of experience, qualifications, and expertise you need. Consider these six factors when hiring your next proposal consultant.

1. Management expertise

The size of the deal often drives the level of proposal management expertise needed by the proposal consultant. Verify that the consultant you hire has experience managing bids of similar size, scope, and complexity in similar markets.

2. Capture and proposal expertise

Developing expertise takes years of experience performing tasks with varying proposal types across the full bid and proposal lifecycle. Consultants who gain expertise working on demanding assignments with highly competitive, complex proposals in similar situations are best positioned to meet your needs. They should have the expertise to make recommendations that add value to your operations.

3. Agency experience

There are similarities among most proposals written in the federal market, so while having agency experience is nice, it’s not essential. Proposal consultants tend to be more generalists, but some specialize in market segments (e.g., defense or civilian agencies). A few develop expertise in specific agencies after having done multiple proposals for those agencies.

4. Domain experience

The proposal consultant must understand the contract work to be done. Good predictors of this are an undergraduate or advanced degree in a related field, on-the-job work experience in that industry, or significant experience gained writing proposals for companies in that field.

5. Behaviors and soft skills

Good consultants are adaptable and flexible to customer requirements and constraints. They should demonstrate the capacity to work amicably with your staff and independently, maintain a positive attitude, and boost team morale.

6. Professional commitment

Professional commitment to the proposal field separates those who are accidental proposal consultants, just filling time between jobs. Proposal consultants often demonstrate commitment through continuous training, Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) certifications, and APMP participation.

While screening consultant candidates, honestly depict the job responsibilities, performance expectations, working styles, timelines, and constraints. Communicate the consultant’s expected roles, responsibilities, and reporting chain. Discuss the timeframe to complete the work and if the timeframe is reasonable and realistic given the bid constraints and pre-RFP work completed. Using the processes described above, you can have high confidence that you are selecting the right consultant and that your proposal is moving on a clear path to victory.

By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow

Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals. As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at and join us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.