Bored at lunch the other day, I passed the time watching the gig that was showing on the large plasma screen in the corner: the Pussycat Dolls, at some recent music festival.
What particularly struck me – other than the fact that one of the band seemed to have quite forgotten her skirt – was the make-up of the audience. Directly in front of the stage, a few rows of youngsters danced away ecstatically; behind them were ranked row upon row of seats filled with bored-looking adults.
Who are the kids who’ll be singing along in the front row – excited, knowing the words; the ones who were delighted to see your name appear on the festival line-up, who’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, who’ll tell their friends how great you were?
Who are the folks who really aren’t here to see your performance: they really don’t like your stuff – they just wanted to get a good spot ready for their favourite band, next on stage?
Who’ll be sitting, looking bored, in the corporate sponsors’ seats: there on sufferance, pre-disposed to be bored, hard to win round, but potentially the ones paying for the tickets and the drinks?
Now it’s not my job as a proposal manager to get in amongst the stakeholders within the customer’s organisation. But I do believe I have the right to test that the salesperson will have done so by the time they get to read the proposal. And I also have the right, the need to suck the salesperson dry of information about the potential audience so that I can fine-tune my performance – proposal – accordingly.