News & Knowledge Center

How to Build Professional Skills in Proposal Management

Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor, I have been in proposals for five years and love the industry--- I am one of those anomalies that thrive on little sleep, junk food, and a drive to win! I am hungry to improve and learn as much as I can. Besides joining the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), what else do you suggest I do to improve my skills, knowledge, and general competency in proposal management? The "green" Proposal Manager" Dear Green, Great question. I admire your commitment to continuous improvement. Knowledge is experiential in this business. At the same time, proposal managers need skills that are inherent in other professions. First, consider courses or online training that will improve communication skills, both written and spoken. For written communication, look at courses offered in technical writing in a local community college, through the Society for Technical Communication, or online. Many organizations offer training in...

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Two Hats

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Dear Proposal Doctor, People say I have a big head, but believe me, I would prefer to only wear one hat. Unfortunately, my capture manager is not doing his job. Communications with subcontractors are erratic and inconsistent, the pricing team does not have a strategy, and progress towards a viable solution is slow. Every time I jump in to help with these items, the team is so grateful to have someone providing direction. In fact, if not for my efforts, nothing would have been accomplished on many fronts that should be the responsibility of the capture manager. Wearing two hats is exhausting and I’m only getting compensated for one. How can I get my capture manager to do his job? Double Hatted Dear Double, The situation you describe is common in two respects. First, it is common to find many different definitions of capture. This job is not in the...

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Creating an Optimal Path for a Losing Proposal

Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor: I am currently the proposal manager on what I believe to be a losing proposal. We have never met the customer and have no first hand insight to the customer’s requirements or hot buttons. Our technical architect has developed a solution that meets 75% of the customer’s requirements. My management is very enthusiastic about our chances of winning. What should I do? Sincerely, Troubled Dear Troubled, As proposal managers, we have to develop a range of skills and behaviors. Right now, your job is to learn to compartmentalize (not easy) so that you can take three steps: State your position. Get on with the show, because the show must go on. Address the long term. Here is what I mean. First, if you have not already informed senior management that this should be a no-bid, you should state all the reasons why the company is probably wasting...

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Faking Deadlines Foils Confidence in Proposal Team

Ask the Proposal Doctor

Dear Proposal Doctor, How can I get my clients to communicate the schedule accurately? We provide print and graphic services, so we are just one part of the proposal machine. Often the clients don’t communicate when there are extensions and leave us waiting for information. Or they give fake deadlines -- I believe their intent is to get the product back faster or instill a greater sense of urgency. What actually happens is chaos, which prevents accurate scheduling. My staff cannot prioritize without accurate deadlines for multiple projects. Even worse, there is a loss of trust. If the vendor isn't given timely or accurate information, it communicates that the person with the information doesn't trust enough or respect their resource enough to share it. That makes it harder to work together in an open environment after that. Frustrated and Indignant Dear Frustrated, Wow. You raise some important issues. Let’s take...

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