Understanding the Roles that Proposal Managers Play and How to Leverage Their Skill
- Understanding Proposals
- What Does a Proposal Manager Do?
- Leveraging Sales
- Finding Balance
- Drafts and Negotiations
- Refining the Proposal
- The Proposal Manager Role
- Finding RFP Success
Writing proposals that win jobs is a critical skill that can mean the success of a company or its downfall. Proposal managers oversee that process. They play a vital role in securing a healthy financial future for your company, but their purpose is often misunderstood.
Proposals are like shop windows. They allow would-be customers to see how your team operates, but they can be much more than that. They also allow you to explain what makes your company unique. Your proposal can explain how your team will leverage its strengths to serve a need or outline what you can do to benefit a client company.
Proposal managers are in charge of explaining that interplay.
What Does a Proposal Manager Do?
Proposal managers are like symphony conductors in the request for proposal (RFP) process. They help companies like yours explain what they can deliver, how they will do so, and how those activities meet the needs of the client company. To accomplish this, proposal managers gather information about your team as well as your potential client and explain how your organization delivers value.
The first step in the proposal management process is to meet with your team’s sales lead or the salesperson directly involved with the customer in question.
Sales is one of your most essential resources. Most salespeople have been working with potential clients for weeks, if not months before the RFP process begins. During that time, they will have learned that customer’s preferences, their needs, and the language they use. Proposal managers leverage this information to write proposals that directly respond to those parameters.
After gathering as much information as possible from the sales team, proposal managers take that intel to the core team. Together, we discuss whether your company is a good fit for the RFP and how you might fulfill those needs.
The next step is crafting the budget and drafting a proposal response.
Proposals are a balancing act. It’s not just a matter of detailing how much different activities and expenses cost. Budgets in the proposal process establish a balance between what is commercially viable for your team and how you can provide the most value to your client companies. At the same time, the proposal response itself needs to be tempered.
You want to provide detail while maintaining relevancy.
In the case of clinical trials, this means explaining your strategy for executing a study while not drowning the reader in irrelevant and unnecessary lengthy text.
Drafts and Negotiations
Once the draft proposal is ready, proposal managers share it with operational leads. This step allows those key players to provide vital input. They have the opportunity to opine on whether their teams can fulfill those objectives with the resources outlined. Team leads can also evaluate whether the proposal manager has captured their full contribution to the project. In many cases, leads will negotiate or bargain for more resources or control. The proposal manager takes these requests into account and makes appropriate adjustments to the draft proposal.
Refining the Proposal
Once all input has been received and terms negotiated, the proposal manager can prepare the final deliverable. This step of the process brings together the negotiated budget and information from operational leads. The proposal manager would prepare a draft for executive and financial review. Some changes to the proposal may be necessary, and the entire packet needs a quality review. Finally, the sales lead or person who has been working with the client will review the document and appropriate changes for that audience.
The Proposal Manager Role
At its core, the role of the proposal manager is to ensure that your company provides a comprehensive and engaging response to your client company’s RFP. However, there is also a human component. Proposal managers oversee the contributions of so many colleagues and team members that it can be challenging. Proposal managers have to work within your operational staff’s availability, include their existing workload, and find the right volume of projects to keep them busy. They also may need to follow up with personnel directly as well as make decisions about resource allocation.
Finding RFP Success
Bringing this together and consolidating it into a proposal that wins the bid is a talent and a privilege. When there is a proposal manager, he or she is a single source of accountability. That person dictates the preparation of that proposal from receipt of the RFP throughout the bidding process. Having the right proposal manager in place can improve your odds of RFP success.