O P I N I O N
When you underestimate the proposal and fail to invest in its development, you risk losing money and wasting business development resources.
I n the world of bid management, winning more work calls for relationship building, opportunity qualification, sound positioning, and persuasive proposals. Relationship building is the soul of the long-term investment we call business development. Opportunity qualification eliminates projects with low-win probability. Positioning involves planning and executing a capture strategy for a specific opportunity with the goal of client preference. Done well, these critical elements increase win rates.
Loathed and deserted, but not inconsequential is the proposal itself. When I began working in AEC, I often heard that winning work happened before the RFP. Industry veterans said this matter-of-factly, and I nodded along, despite holding one tiny qualm. If the proposal didn’t matter, why hire me? What my time in AEC has revealed isn’t that those seasoned leaders were wrong but that they were only half right. Clients do make decisions and establish preferences before the RFP. But the proposal is not a charade, and it’s time we stop pretending it is. When we underestimate the
proposal and fail to invest in its development, we risk losing thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of business development. It’s like hooking the big one and then breaking the line while we reel in, starting a touchdown dance at the 90-yardline. The proposal must justify the client’s preference. It must confirm the selection. If it fails to do its job, we could not only lose the work and our investment in business development but the client’s trust. After all, a client who tells you exactly what they want but doesn’t see that
See MERCEDEZ THOMPSON, page 12
THE ZWEIG LETTER NOVEMBER 16, 2020, ISSUE 1368
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