We fell into a discussion recently about roles within a proposal centre, considering the variety of skills needed to pull together a first-class document. To quote from a note I fired off to a friend who runs a proposal centre in the States:
Oh that it was easy to get someone who could simultaneously conduct that orchestra superbly, write an award-winning book, and draw a masterpiece… and that clients gave us long enough for one person to do everything necessary from a proposal perspective.
But, of course, these are very different skills – and time pressures mean that some sub-division of labour is essential. Either that, or affordability means that there has to be a trade-off.
Require them to be highly “proposal savvy”. And (if it’s possible) make sure they know their way around your organisation and understand your market too – although this would be the area in which I’d compromise if I were recruiting for the role: a great proposal manager can lead a proposal team selling breakfast cereal to a supermarket or business-critical technology services with equal aplomb. But at least make sure they’re great strategic reviewers – able to dissect draft text and see where improvements need to be made, pushing towards a truly excellent document.
Finally, in some organisations, offer this mythical being the salary of a glorified administrator. And then wonder why you can’t get the staff!
Of course, these competencies are very different to those of a great Proposal Writer (brilliant at editing text and building one-to-one relationships with content contributors, but liable to run a mile if asked to stand up and facilitate a workshop). And the skill-set is poles apart from the great Word and design skills of a good Document Manager. But hey, we can expect them to do all of this brilliantly as well, right?