Managing Expectations to Win More

A recent trend in the past few New Years has been to throw resolutions out the window. People claim they come with too much pressure, and most aren’t met by the year’s end anyway. Starting up a new proposal could prompt similar stress for proposal managers, especially if a recent proposal started with a good kickoff and went downhill from there.  

As you embark on this new year, you can avoid this type of burnout by managing expectations. This is a skill that good proposal managers are familiar with because it is essential to winning business. 

Expectations need to be managed and communicated throughout the entire proposal effort. A strong kickoff meeting is a fantastic start, but if that is the only time you communicate expectations, you will run into problems that could have been avoided. An efficient way to ensure this happens is to ask yourself these questions: Who? What? Where? How? When? Why? 

  • Who is involved or impacted?  
  • What are they expected to accomplish?  
  • Where should they work on it, where can they get help, and where should they submit it?  
  • How should they do it, by what procedure, using what inputs, and according to what standards?  
  • When should they check in and when should they complete their efforts?  
  • Why is the assignment important and why should they do it the way you’ve described?  

To ensure the proposal team understands the expectations you set, encourage each team member to ask themselves the following questions as well: 

  • Who might be a better candidate? Who do I need to help?  
  • What do I need to accomplish the assignment? What conflicts do I have? What don’t I understand?  
  • Where do I have to be?  
  • How do I learn what I need to know?  
  • When can I work on it? When can I complete it?  
  • Why can’t I follow the process, meet the schedule, or fulfill the expectations?  

If you don’t encourage the person receiving an assignment to voice these questions, you won’t know about issues until it’s too late. Having your proposal team honestly answer each question prepares the team to overcome potential problems during proposal development. Both sets of expectations need to be communicated and any issues resolved if you strive to submit a winning proposal. 

Regarding New Year’s resolutions, it helps to have realistic expectations as you set goals. These make your goals more achievable. In proposal management, having and communicating your expectations throughout the proposal process ensures that you are prepared to mitigate issues before they arise, making the proposal development process smoother.  This helps prevent proposal burnout often experienced by all members of the team and sets you up to write a winning proposal.