If your company does not have a dedicated proposal team(s) whose sole focus is to produce winning proposals you have been, or will be, called upon to participate in the proposal process. The proposal is one of the most important forms of writing engineers do. Successful proposals lead to jobs, products, and profit. Unsuccessful proposals lead nowhere.
At some point in your engineering career, you will be asked to write a proposal that could win a contract for your company. Proposals require a lot of people with differing expertise and perspectives to work together to create the perfect proposal. The expertise you possess is valuable. Your body of knowledge can have a huge impact on the growth of your company. As the authority on a certain subject, you play a big role in the proposal team
When it comes to the proposal process, some of the best ways you can support your colleagues are to 1) complete your proposal assignments on time, 2) communicate, and 3) write persuasively and uniquely for each proposal’s specific requirements.
Managing workload in addition to proposal activities is a challenge. With many people involved in the proposal process it’s crucial to understand that, as with an engineering project schedule, a single – seemingly minor – missed, or late, deadline creates a snowball effect and can have serious negative consequences to the entire team and proposal effort. Teamwork and time management are essential in the proposal process. When you’re brought into a proposal, be realistic and transparent about your prioritization and workload. Particularly when responding to RFPs with tight deadlines.
Clearly communicate when the proposal manager or project manager can expect your input. If you are asked to write a proposal but have too much billable work, you cannot assume that other people know and understand your commitments and workload. You must communicate your commitments and workload and suggest other alternatives. It is better to let them know when the RFP lands on your desk, not the day before the deadline or not even deliver it. Always ask for help when you need it.
As engineers you are trained to write to inform. When writing for proposals you should write to persuade. When you write to persuade you don’t just provide information to the reader and hope they come to the correct conclusion, you are taking them by the hand and guiding them decision by decision, around each obstacle, and ultimately, you’re leading them to the correct conclusion (select our company).
When it comes to writing for proposals, the most fundamental best practice of all is to focus on the needs of the buyer. We should be talking about them, not about us. You never, ever want to begin a proposal talking about yourself. It’s always much better to begin a proposal by talking about the buyer, acknowledge what they want to accomplish, and then explain how you are going to help them get what they want. Even when you are talking about you, you must find a way to make it about them. Finishing each answer with a simple benefit statement (And here’s what this means to you…. The benefit of this approach to you is…) will dramatically improve the effectiveness of your proposal content.
Proposals require a lot of people with differing expertise and perspectives to work together to create the perfect proposal. The success of a proposal is dependent upon the commitment of the proposal team participants. Winning new projects/contracts, finding new clients, and building relationships with current clients is the work you do now for the work you get later. Without it, you just might find yourself with plenty to do until, suddenly, you have nothing else on the schedule.
About Mesa Associates, Inc.
Mesa is a woman/minority-owned full-service multi-discipline engineering, procurement, and construction management firm specializing in providing engineering services for the commercial, government, industrial, municipal, and electric utility industry. Mesa is currently providing over $140M of engineering services to 13 of the top 15 utilities across the United States. Our growth is a result of delivering quality projects and value to our clients with unparalleled customer service.
We differentiate ourselves by saying we are Large Enough to Perform, Small Enough to Care.