Prepping Proposal Teams for the Winning Shot

A capture manager’s work is a lot like golf. Golfers must consider factors like wind, distance, club selection, and course obstacles as they make their way through a course hole. There are so many swings a golfer must carefully make before they are on the green, lining up the final shot. And then in the procurement world, you essentially hand your putter to a whole new person, trusting them to sink that shot. 

What’s the best way to make sure this new person will actually make the final shot on a golf course? Ensuring they are already positioned close enough to that hole. Capture managers do this in a business opportunity by performing vital checks into competitors, customer hot buttons, and other key information. Then, the proposal team has all they need to sink that winning shot. 

Hot Button Issues 

The best source of information is the customer. Proposal teams don’t usually get much face time with the customer, so they must rely on information provided in the RFP or by the capture manager.  

RFPs are great sources of information, but they don’t offer the full picture. An RFP communicates required aspects of your response and organizational styles, like the numbering system you can mirror to immediately make your document’s organization understandable to evaluators. While this is a good detail to know, a more important detail to incorporate is what matters most to the customer. 

Capture managers should have been working with the customer to shape the RFP for months before it was released. While this might mean that the RFP would then be an open instruction book to all the customer’s wants and needs, there are still unwritten hot buttons the proposal team must address if they want to produce a winning proposal. Capture managers must decipher the customer’s hot button issues, keep track of them as they develop or change, and then pass these along to the proposal team.  

When a capture manager doesn’t bother to uncover hidden customer hot buttons, the proposal team cannot write a customer-focused proposal—and a bland, generic proposal is not a winning proposal. 

Competitor Analysis 

Capture managers do a lot of prep work that doesn’t transfer into tangible results until later—much like all the swings a golfer takes with different clubs before pulling out a putter. Customer analysis and competitor analysis are some of these tasks. This does not make them less vital assessments. 

Effective competitor analysis identifies key customer issues, the weight of their importance to the customer, and where your company and competitors rank on each issue. Since the criteria for competitive analysis are based around customer issues, the capture manager must know the customer enough to know what matters most to them. As an opportunity progresses, the capture manager must keep competitor analysis up to date so that it stays relevant and useful. 

Proposal teams cannot mitigate your company’s strengths, weaknesses, and gaps as perceived by the customer unless they have insight into the customer’s perceptions. Similarly, they also cannot ghost the competition if they do not know what weaknesses to exploit. Capture managers must clearly communicate this to the proposal team. 

Decision Gates 

Organizations cannot hold accurate decision gates without effective competitor analysis. Capture managers need to do the prep work that allows leadership to make realistic, justifiable pursuit decisions. Then they need to be prepared to end the pursuit if that is the best overall decision. Even in golf, if there have been too many poor swings, it is sometimes better to take the loss on one hole so you can make up your score on the next ones. 

Submitting proposals on anything and everything is a waste of money, time, and effort. Effective proposals are not free documents that can simply be drummed up using old boilerplate. Winning proposals stem from a well-established relationship with the customer and a tailored, customer-focused writing. The capture manager must communicate with the proposal team to make this happen. 

Supporting the Proposal 

One of the best ways capture managers can help proposal teams take that last shot is by contributing to the proposal development effort. A capture manager’s engagement in an opportunity should not end at the proposal kickoff—there is still much they can contribute.  

Capture managers should still be involved in relevant kickoff meetings and color team reviews during proposal development. Based on their interactions with the customer, they have vital information to pass along that the proposal team can use to develop a winning proposal. Starting with the capture plan, help align the proposal plan to best address customer hot buttons and needs.  

When the capture manager focuses the proposal team on customer needs, they set them up for success. 

We’re All in this Together 

Proposal teams need to rely on the capture manager’s customer knowledge to create a winning proposal. Capture managers should start compiling necessary customer information during their capture activities that they can later pass along to the proposal team. Then, they must be available and willing to give relevant input as needed throughout the proposal development process. When these two aspects of business winning work together, they’re sure to shoot a winning score.