Your CEO has just issued an edict that the Vice President of Business Development must increase the number of proposal responses by 50 percent in the next six months. The number of solicitations being released by the Government is not a problem, but your staffing won’t allow you to have the requisite throughput to meet the CEO’s demand. What do you do?

Third-Party Support

Chances are you going to have to go to a third-party for proposal support until you can build your capacity. Having made that decision, the first thing you need to do is determine what skills you really need to be able to keep the VP of BD’s job intact. Proposal managers (PM) become your number one staffing priority because no matter how good your writing staff is or how smart the SMEs are, a good proposal manager can tie everything together into a winning formula. So now, you ask yourself what are the major skills needed for a proposal manager to be successful?

Key Proposal Manager Qualities

Proposal Managers are essential for streamlining the proposal process, ensuring quality, meeting deadlines, and ultimately enhancing the organization’s chances of winning contracts or projects through effective communication and presentation of its capabilities. There are a few key attributes for a proposal manager and several sets of skills they must have to be successful. Let look at the key attributes first:

  • The PM must be able to read and interpret a solicitation. While every solicitation has its quirks, a good PM will have been exposed to most of the quirks, know where they lie, and know how to address them in the final response.
  • The PM should know how to shred an RFP to build a compliance or cross-reference matrix and understand how to use it to build a document that’s responsive to the requirements.
  • The PM needs to understand how to write from the client’s perspective and how to incorporate their language into the response.

Critical Proposal Manager Skillsets

Beyond these key attributes that are several skillsets that should be routine for a successful PM, including:

  1. Leadership: Proposal managers need strong leadership skills to guide a diverse team through the proposal process, make strategic decisions, and keep the team motivated and focused on the end goal.
  2. Project Management: A good proposal manager is essentially a project manager. They should be skilled in project management methodologies to plan, execute, and close out the proposal process efficiently.
  3. Attention to Detail: Proposals require precision, and small errors can have a significant impact. A good proposal manager pays attention to detail to ensure the accuracy and professionalism of the final proposal.
  4. Organizational Skills: Proposal managers must be highly organized to keep track of various elements involved in the proposal process, including deadlines, team members, and document versions.
  5. Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential. Proposal managers need to convey complex information clearly, both in writing and verbally, and ensure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities.

By using these attributes and skills as a baseline for interviewing and identifying a potential PM, you place your organization in a much better situation to respond to the greatly increased response requirements.

Now that we understand what’s most important when selecting a proposal manager, we need to turn to what you need to consider about the third-party source you’ll need to use.

Follow These Guidelines

With 38 years of expertise as a consultant agency owner, I’ve distilled valuable insights from overseeing 5,000 consultant assignments. Secure the ideal Proposal Manager by following these guidelines:

  • Collaborate with agencies boasting robust vetting processes, including comprehensive reference checks and background screenings.
  • Opt for agencies with the bench strength to align with your specific needs, whether it’s consultant writers with specialized State Department experience or other niche requirements.
  • Partner with companies renowned for delivering consultants with both the skill and character required to excel in their roles.
  • Choose agencies capable of providing consultants who seamlessly integrate into your corporate culture.
  • Prioritize face-to-face interactions, utilizing video platforms when in-person meetings are impractical. This ensures a more thorough assessment, preventing potential oversights evident only in visual interactions.
  • When specialized talents like security clearances or subject matter experts are imperative, seek agencies equipped to fulfill these unique needs.
  • If considering in-house hiring, establish a rigorous vetting process. Recognize the challenge faced by HR personnel lacking proposal experience and mitigate the risk of selecting under-skilled individuals by focusing on competence rather than the lowest price.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can significantly enhance the likelihood of securing a highly skilled Proposal Manager for your projects, ensuring effective proposal management and successful project outcomes.

Interested in meeting one of our proposal managers? Reach out here.