We’re strong advocates of the school of thought that proposal skills are transferable. It’s not unusual for us to find ourselves working successfully in investment management one day, with an insurance client the next, combined with forays into logistics, travel, high-tech and other market sectors.
In our latest dive into the results of the 2007 Proposal & BD Professionals Survey, I was therefore curious to consider some of the differences between proposal management in different industries. I’ve focused on the three sectors that have the highest number of responses (Finance, ‘Healthcare/insurance/TPA/benefits admin/Rx’, and Technology (telecoms and computer products/services).
Finance – 20%
Healthcare – 19%
Technology – 7%
A shade over a quarter of bidders are given two calendar weeks or longer to respond to RFPs, but this hides another difference in the Technology market:
Finance – 15%
Healthcare – 16%
Technology – 36%
Fortunately, well over half of proposals in Finance or Healthcare are sub-100 pages in length. Again, perhaps commensurate with the length of time given to respond, a higher proportion of proposals in the Technology sector are over 200 pages long:
Finance – 2%
Healthcare – 16%
Technology – 32%
Where do we work? Overall, 38% of respondents are office-bound, 12% of us telecommute full-time, and the other half of us work from home part-time or occasionally.
Again, though, that masks interesting differences: the Technology sector leads the way in remote working, with just 27% entirely office-based, versus 44% of those in Finance or Healthcare. This is presumably due both to the technical capabilities of the organisations concerned, and the shorter turnaround times for RFPs in the non-technology arena.
A third of respondents report that they have a formal qualification process in place to decide which opportunities in place. However, organisations in the Technology sector are far more likely to have a formal process in place than their peers in other large sectors (42%, versus 28% in Finance and just 18% in Healthcare). Thereafter, the most common responses were that the qualification decision rests with salespeople (26% overall), upper management (17%) or the proposal team (8%). And a scary 12% of respondents have no process and “just bid on everything”.
Some 81% of those surveyed report that they use a knowledge base of pre-written content. (I suspect that this may be slightly high due to the population who’ve been circulated with the survey details). What’s fascinating is that there’s very little variation in this figure between the larger sectors. And what’s scary is the 10% who report buying a knowledge base but not using it! That makes me wonder what proportion of the 81% have databases that simply enable them to write poor proposals faster – rather than a robust process for publishing truly well-written, strategically-focused, up-to-date material.
Survey results are still coming in, so there’s still time for you to add your voice if you click on the link at the top of this post.