Clear thinking

Learn how to improve your proposals and win more business.

Critical Point: Kickoff

 July 24, 2018
by Paul Heron

The bid lifecycle includes critical points where the right actions can greatly improve your chances of success. We posted earlier this month on three of these:

This week we’ll consider another: the kickoff meeting.

Why kickoffs matter

The purpose of kickoff meetings is to arm your proposal team with the attitude, tools and alignment needed to win. Those goals cannot be achieved in the loosely organized meetings (or calls) many bidders hold right after the bid decision.

Instead, take time to organize and conduct a kickoff that delivers:

  • Motivation: Participants understand why this win is important for the organization and that a plan exists to win. Senior managers show they value the team’s contribution and support the proposal leadership.  Team members believe their company appreciates their efforts and the sacrifices they will make.
  • Information:  Proposal teams thrive on information, starting with strategy and positioning. Why is this purchase important for the buyer? What specific issues and features do evaluators care about? Where is your solution strong? Where do your competitors have the edge? What's the best way to express your central value proposition for each section?
    Participants also need information about the proposal structure, compliance requirements, workflow, deadlines, team organization and contacts, etc.
  • Direction: The team needs to know what to do next, including detailed task instructions, planning and content templates, and milestones and completion dates. They also need the project protocols—such as where and how to upload work files, document versioning rules, meeting schedules, calls and other check-ins—and the consequences for missing commitments.

What to do

Follow these steps for a successful kickoff:

  • Get any internal buy-ins needed.
  • Select and invite participants to the kickoff soon after the bid decision is made. Pick a date a week or two away so you have enough time for strategy making. Resist efforts to move up the kickoff.
  • Use the information in this post to build and document a robust strategy.
  • Modify this model agenda to suit your company and the project size.
  • Practice as you would for any important presentation.
  • Conduct a crisp and positive meeting.

Daily management

Now that your team expects a disciplined proposal effort, don’t disappoint. Use the ideas in this post to track progress closely and to offer guidance and support to content developers.

The payoff

Strong kickoffs and follow through will create and sustain positive momentum and morale that results in strong content with little wasted effort.

Next week: Critical Point: Red Team Review


Need help planning and running powerful kickoff meetings?

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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