Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

Managing proposal content developers

 November 1, 2016
by Paul Heron

Many companies assign proposal drafting to subject matter experts (SMEs). After all—who better to describe what we’ll do and how? Other companies give proposal work to their marketing departments. Still others make sales teams responsible for responding to RFPs.

In each case, RFP sections often get assigned immediately after the decision to bid is made. Writers start to draft with little strategic input.

Here’s the challenge

Unless all three groups contribute, your bid will be vulnerable to more compelling proposals. As the diagram below shows, SMEs, marketing and sales each bring an important perspective to an RFP response. All three are needed for a robust proposal.

Strong proposal strategies combine the knowledge of three kinds of resources:

  • SMEs, who provide deep knowledge of how the solution works and what customization is possible
  • Sales reps (business developers), who bring insight into the prospect’s strategic drivers and hot button issues
  • Marketing, which supplies understanding of the solution’s key selling features and benefits

Even when all three areas contribute to strategy, the individual drafting the content will need support to make sense of their input.

Getting the most from writers

Avoid disappointing first drafts and endless rewrites by investing time upfront on strategy that draws on the knowledge of the three kinds of expertise described above. Then:

  1. Communicate the strategy and expectations to your proposal writers.
  2. Provide them with a framework and tools to guide them in drafting content.
  3. Encourage and challenge writers to substitute compelling graphics for words when making their strongest arguments.
  4. Finally, manage writer progress closely for two reasons:
    • To avoid surprises by ensuring progress is happening
    • To keep drafters on strategy, thus ensuring their energy is well used

In the coming four posts we’ll explore each these steps in getting the most from writers.

Next week: Communicating strategy to writers



Need help developing stronger proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit


Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 






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