Proposal Manager’s Tips for Running Fast Turn-around Proposals

A proposal manager’s role is clear when a proposal lasts 30 days, or even 14, but things get more complicated as the allotted time shrinks. Many wonder what kind of value they could provide as a proposal manager when a proposal is only 5-7 days in duration. In most cases, process as we know it goes out the door – and barely controlled chaos ensues.

By far the biggest value you can add as a proposal manager on a short-fuse bid is by providing AMPLE guidance to your team as to how to respond to each section – how to find information, and how to use it as quickly as possible. You have to have a good boilerplate content library – it’s a must for fast turnarounds – and your role is to retrieve the right pieces of this content quickly and provide it to the authors in a way that prevents them from simply cutting and pasting.

Speaking of processes, you have to tailor the process you have for short turn-around proposals to suit this exact bid and your level of preparedness. How many reviews will you have, will they be rolling reviews, who will attend, and what specifically do you plan to accomplish, for example?

You can also provide just-in-time training to people on speed-writing techniques – in order to turn non-professional writers (Subject Matter Experts) into better writers in just a couple of hours. Techniques to teach are the correct writing process, debunking myths about writing, brainstorming techniques for the group and individually (mind mapping), and correct section flow.

Another must-do task is to conduct an effective win theme development session (or a win theme refinement session if you have prepared win themes during capture). It will focus your message. Use techniques for preparing win themes quickly rather than the typical process that takes forever. Start with the customer’s hot buttons. For each hot button, create a win theme in a three-prong feature-benefit-proof set of statements, and make sure that you quantify and qualify all the facts. This way, you will be able to focus on the customer and quickly develop no-fluff win themes that are specific to you.

The last proven trick for managing fast turnaround proposals is to assign one good, speedy writer to the role of a “proposal integrator.” You need someone with fast fingers and sharp mind to take in all the raw section inputs from the contributors, put them in one document, and massage the whole thing to perfection. Whether it’s you who serves this role, or someone else, it’s up to you – the key is that they have to be a strong, prolific writer.

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