Kickoff for Success

What single meeting sets the stage for an entire proposal? The kickoff meeting. This meeting is quintessential for proposal managers to give their team the information and tools they need to write a winning proposal. It is also the perfect opportunity to set expectations for the entire proposal development stage.

Gather Information

Your proposal team needs background knowledge about the customer—more than just handing them the RFP. Work with the capture manager or sales lead to gather relevant information on the customer and their biggest concerns. An effective proposal is more than compliant; it is responsive to the customer’s underlying concerns and issues. Include this information in the writers’ packages you provide at the kickoff meeting.

Provide Tools

A kickoff meeting is the ideal place to provide tools and templates. Make sure everyone knows where to attain any boilerplate or graphics. If you use templates to plan content or mock up drafts, make these documents easily accessible to everyone. Also specify where drafts and proposal sections need to be stored or uploaded. Work with IT personnel to ensure everyone has access to these if they are housed on a cloud service or intranet site before the kickoff meeting.

Set Expectations

Some company cultures assume that the entire proposal team will work 7 days a week, 12+ hours each day until the proposal deadline. This is not sustainable long term and is one of the reasons why companies experience so much turnover in this profession. Set realistic expectations at the kickoff meeting. You may have to work on weekends and holidays, but do not plan to. Be sure the proposal team understands the schedule, including reviews throughout proposal development.

Proposal managers make a difference. So many writers can pinpoint their proposal manager as the reason the proposal was a success or why their bid lost. When you manage a proposal, be prepared to use the kickoff meeting to set the tone and arm your proposal team with everything they need to write a winning proposal.