Clear thinking

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Critical Point: Red Team

 July 31, 2018
by Paul Heron

This month’s posts have been all about critical points in the bid lifecycle—process steps that can tip the balance between losing and winning. Earlier posts included:

This week’s topic is the Red Team review. Schedule this review to take place when the proposal will be 50 to 60 percent complete, but while there’s still time to make significant improvements. A good rule is about three quarters of the way through the response window.

Success ingredients for Red Team reviews

Successful Red Team reviews focus on compliance and how well the win strategies are expressed in the proposal. Pay attention to these critical components:

  • Fix the date; invite the right people: Announce the red team review date at kickoff and work towards it. Invite individuals who know the client and the competition and insist on in-person attendance. 
  • Make it document-based: Manage towards producing the very best document possible for review. Lock down and circulate the entire proposal to all reviewers at least three business days before the review. Reviewers should be expected to review the content and make notes before the session. Provide a form on which to evaluate each section against the RFP scoring system and to identify gaps, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Pre-plan and facilitate: Plan to spend an entire day reviewing a large proposal. Use a facilitator and follow an agenda. Align the conversation on each section with the evaluation criteria. Avoid getting sidetracked by issues of grammar and style. Identify and resolve conflicting comments during the review session whenever possible.
  • Follow up: If not done live during the session (preferred), assemble and consolidate the reviewers’ comments immediately after the session. Assign one or two of your best editors to address the comments. Keeping this re-write small helps maintain consistency of voice and style. 

Organizing a Red Team review

  • Get buy-in and commitment for a robust Red Team review
  • Implement the strategy making and kickoff processes described in the linked posts above so your proposal is reviewable
  • Set a date at kickoff and manage to have a reviewable document prepared three days ahead
  • Reach out to the reviewers ahead of the date to ensure they support the review and understand their responsibilities
  • Choose a comfortable room in a location that discourages interruptions
  • Circulate the proposal, evaluation form and an agenda three days ahead of the session
  • Run a high-energy, constructive session, and then use the input to improve your proposal.

The payoff

Feedback from a document-based, strategy-focused Red Team review can turn a run-of-the-mill bid into a strong contender.


Need help facilitating game-changing proposal reviews?

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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