Proposal kickoff participants

In the past two posts, we covered proposal kickoff meeting goals and how to prepare for successful proposal kickoffs. This post identifies those who should be present and the roles each will play.

Because the kick-off needs to motivate, inform and direct the team—especially the subject matter experts, writers and editors—for the long days ahead, you need to choose and prepare presenters carefully.

Participants and roles

The table below lists individuals who should attend a major kick-off and their roles in the meeting.


Senior manager** Motivates the proposal team, demonstrates organizational commitment to the proposal
Sales manager*** Describes the prospect, nature of the relationship, key drivers and hot button issues
Product manager** Describes the solution and its key performance features
Proposal manager*** Runs the meeting, introduces the proposal plan, outlines the strategy, distributes Section Content Planners
Project manager*** Explains the proposal schedule, reporting and other protocols
Obliging managers* Managers assigning (losing) resources to the proposal project demonstrate support by their presence


Subject matter experts** Understand proposal strategy and scope, schedule, procedures and work assignments
Writers and editors*** Understand proposal strategy and scope, schedule, procedures and work assignments, receive Section Content Planners
Graphic artist(s)* Understand proposal strategy and scope, schedule, procedures and work assignments
Designer(s)* Understand proposal strategy and scope, schedule, procedures and work assignments

Right-sizing kick-offs

Size proposal teams and kick-offs to fit your organization, specific opportunities and solution complexity. On smaller proposal teams, the proposal manager can assume the project coordination role. Very large proposal teams may include several volume managers, each responsible for a major section, reporting to the proposal manager. In this case, the volume managers may kick off the proposal with the relevant subject matter experts in separate meetings.

When downsizing participation, see the asterisks in the table above and the following guide:
*** Critical   ** Important   * Optional

Companies submitting multiple proposals each month typically reserve the kick-off process described in this series for one or two strategic opportunities each year that deserve this level of attention.

Motivate and inform

Much of the kick-off will cover information needed by team members responsible for developing and assembling the proposal. Those parts are likely to be dry.

So, when inviting participants, be sure to remind the opening acts—the senior manager, sales manager and product manager—that those in the trenches need to see—and feel—their enthusiasm for the project.

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