A year ahead

So many proposal teams are engaged by their sales colleagues to respond to RFPs. Their skill, their energy, is deployed reactively, against the clock, at a point in the bid process where the opportunity to influence the client is already significantly diminished.

So much more rewarding to be the proposal manager I was working alongside last week. Her sales team had identified an opportunity to capture a substantial piece of business – but the RFP wouldn’t be issued for a year. An initial meeting had been scheduled with the client; would she care to be involved, and could she offer any advice?

We chatted through some of the key questions they might want to ask, to understand (at a high level, at this stage) the customer’s key drivers for contemplating change; their view of the ideal solution; the competitive landscape (especially, their perspectives on the incumbent); the procurement approach they were likely to follow.

We talked about the potential for pro-active documents well in advance of the RFx, to try to short-circuit the process or (at least) influenced the client’s requirements and spec. I encouraged her to jot down key words and phrases used by the customer during the discussion: to start to live and breathe their environment. And I urged her to fade largely into the background in that first meeting – not to tread on the salesperson’s toes!

By the end of the discussion, I was itching to get more involved: to work on the campaign from start to successful finish. How much better it is for proposal folks to engage with sales in this way – rather than last minute – and how much greater the value we can add!

This article was written by Jon and filed under Musings. If you found it useful, you can with others. To receive automatic updates, subscribe to The Proposal Guys via RSS or Email.

1 Comment »

  • Bill Boggs says:

    A year in advance of the RFP? An opportunity to learn what the customer wants? An opportunity to influence the customer? Crazy Talk…simply Crazy Talk :-p

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