Chapter 6

Developing Your Proposal Process


Making sense of the proposal process

Deciding whether to make the bid

Developing a successful proposal

Taking valuable lessons from every proposal

Proposals don’t happen overnight. Well, bad ones do. Bad ones also happen over weeks, months, and sometimes years when the people writing them don’t know what they’re doing. Having ample time can reduce some of the stress of proposal writing, but time alone doesn’t ensure a winning proposal.

Proposals take a lot of effort — effort to understand your customers, effort to understand your competitors, and effort to create solutions that meet your customers’ requirements and outperform those offered by your competitors. They also take — with a nod to Liam Neeson’s Taken movies — a “particular set of skills.” But before you apply these skills, you need to know how and when to.

What separates proposals that win from those that lose is how you blend the skills you have as a proposal writer with the abilities and efforts of your contributors within the time you’re given to create the proposal.

Winning business through proposals takes a plan — a repeatable, flexible process that you can implement whether the window of opportunity is alarmingly short or what may seem luxuriously long. The key word is flexible, because few proposal opportunities are identical, and you can never rely on the amount of effort you’ll receive from your contributors.

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