The Skinny on Proposal Consultants – Part 1: How You Can Work Well with Consultants and Benefit the Most

As I am drinking my morning cup of earl gray, I have been thinking about the kinds of growth challenges business developers and business owners face. One type of those challenges stems from not having enough time, personnel, or expertise to prepare and respond to the solicitations that otherwise would be a perfect fit for the company. If you can relate, then this series of posts with the skinny on proposal consultants is for you.

You may be completely new to hiring consultants. You may be worn thin from all the heavy hours you have put in and overwhelmed with all the proposals you have to write. You may be considering bringing in a professional capture or proposal manager to run a pursuit and to prepare your staff to run better pursuits in the future. You may have a must-win pursuit, and you may be looking to bring in the pros.

Then again, you may also have heard of, or had bad experiences with, consultants who charge heavy hours and run through a budget well before the proposal process is complete. This could leave you stuck in a situation in which you cannot let go of the consultant mid-proposal for risk of not finishing, since there may be a learning curve or heavy workload for a new employee. You will of course be reprimanded by your management, partners, or your own consciousness for blowing your budget. You may even have to forego bidding on other proposals because you have run out of pursuit funds. This set of posts will give you some tips on properly budgeting for consultants work, and will discuss the pros and cons of hiring a consultant vs. using your own employees. It will also take you through the process of working with consultants not only to manage their costs, but to get better products out of their work.

Let me preface by saying that before I became a proposal consultant, I was on the other side of the fence, working as a business development manager for a large defense contractor. I juggled tight budgets and scraped together the resources to assemble capture and proposal teams. For the last three years, I have been providing consulting services personally and also hiring consultant subcontractors to work for my clients or for me directly. I have worked alongside of other consultants and consultant teams. I have seen and heard about a whole gamut of issues from the standpoint of cost per hour or per day, package pricing, and of quality of work. My experience working with consultants has been mostly great, but I have had several disappointments and have heard of many more. In the upcoming series of posts, I will explain to you some of the key realities of the proposal consulting world, and will share with you my techniques for not getting burned and for making the most of consultants work so stay tuned.

To read the rest of “The Skinny on Proposal Consultants” series, click here.

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