Nearly all companies yearn to use proposal consultants to get leverage in the market.  But due to cost, decisions on when and how come with anguish.

My 35-years operating a proposal service company has provided insight on — how companies can benefit most from using proposal consultants.  All companies can benefit in the right circumstances.  However, economics makes it difficult for most companies under $10M to afford consultants.

A rule of thumb is that, a proposal consultant costs half as much as a lawyer, at an equal level of expertise.

The decision to use proposal consultants is simple – can we make more profit by adding these resources?  Will investing $20K or $40K or $200K in consultant services provide the critical mass to win this long-coveted contract?

Below I attempt to provide insight into what are and are not profitable situations in which to use proposal consultants:

Late Start – You would be surprised at how many large and small companies start late.  Whether to add consultants is secondary to the question: Why not take this bid as an opportunity to meet the customer, and find out when he has another opportunity coming up where there is time to prepare?

Overflow – When the peaks and valleys stack up too many opportunities, of course using consultants is one answer.  However, some companies do not.  Instead they go down the hall and grab any random employee who is available.  Those companies leave money on the table.

Personnel Situations – We have been glad to help companies fill in for vacancies due to maternity, death, resignation, personal situations, and other acts of nature.  Dozens of times.

Entering a New Technology – Even with well-prepared plans, companies often still need SMEs at bid time.  With our list of 425 vetted consultants and another 5,000 resumes, we can often step up when such critical talent is needed.

Surge Situations – When a company wants more organic growth in a given year, often consultants are the only answer.   Once we helped with surges at three companies being prepared for sale — when the one was sold to the other and to still another.

High-Volume Operations – It is especially gratifying to help large businesses that run multi-billion-dollar proposal shops.  Because, when the year ends, you know that you were able to make a big difference in helping them push the needle still higher.   

Must Win Competitions – We have all seen “must wins,” sometimes because the company would be out of business with a lose.  Those situations are among the most gratifying in the industry.  Because you take on the mantle of the customer.  And you do everything in your dedicated human power to help them win.