For me, one of the most important processes in the proposal lifecycle is Pre-Proposal Planning. We coined this phrase a few years back, to capture those activities that a proposal team should undertake prior to receipt of the customer’s RFP. I want to make sure that by the time that RFP arrives, our team is ready to rock and roll; that we’ve captured all of the necessary information about the customer’s needs and our competitive landscape; that we’ve influenced and conditioned the customer to expect us to win.
Imagine your favourite sporting team, about to play in the biggest game of the year. For BJ, it could be the Yankees on the eve of a World Series; for me, Liverpool coming up to a European Cup soccer final.
The coach gathers the players together, 24 hours before the big match. “I’ve just checked my diary, and noticed we’ve got a match tomorrow. Anyone free – hope no-one’s planned a day out with the family? Tell you what, let’s meet up in the parking lot outside the stadium – say half-an-hour before the game starts? Not sure who’ll be on the team – we can have a chat about that once we get there. And don’t forget to make sure your kit is washed and ironed…. Oh, and anyone read the newspapers recently? I guess we ought to check which team we’re playing against.”
That feels an awful lot like many proposal teams approaching a big deal. Of course, the top-notch sports team would have planned immaculately: studied the opponents in detail, trained endlessly, chosen their best team, trained, practised their tactics, organised the logistics and so on.
It should be no different for a professional proposal team! Of course, the level of preparation should be commensurate with the size of the deal. But that’s no different to the sports club (where the youth side will probably go through the same routine as the top team, albeit abbreviated, and the coaches won’t necessarily be quite as good).