The bid lifecycle includes key tasks where careful execution can greatly improve your chances of success. We posted earlier on three of these:
This post considers 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 need to understand why this pursuit is important for the organization, and that a plan exists to win. Senior managers need to show they value the team’s contribution, and that the proposal leadership has their full support. Team members should leave the kickoff believing their company appreciates their efforts and the time and energy they will invest.
- 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. Provide them with 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.
- Practise as you would for any important presentation.
- Conduct a crisp and positive meeting.
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.
Strong kickoffs and follow through will create and sustain positive momentum and morale that results in strong content with little wasted effort.