In order to raise your probability of winning a proposal, you have to prepare before an RFP hits the street. It is virtually impossible to develop a solution in the mere 30 days or less you get for most proposals, unless the subject is your core expertise or you are an incumbent. Even then, you may not develop as mature of a solution as you otherwise could. You should, therefore, develop proposal content ahead of time.
Your advance preparation should include flowcharts, notes, graphics, and bullet points that describe every aspect of your solution, proposal section by proposal section. Ideally, this information will enable you to go straight to drafting your proposal, without much additional brainstorming, once the RFP is issued.
Your goal is to stage as many materials as possible in advance for your proposal, so that you experience less stress at the proposal stage, and use all the time allotted on more important tasks. You will be able to develop more drafts of the same section so that it evolves into more mature and polished writing. You will also be able to hone your cost solution through several iterations, because it is heavily dependent on your technical, management, and staffing approaches. In the end, it might make a difference between winning and losing your proposal.
The types of materials you want to set up in advance are many. You need to make decisions on your key personnel and obtain their resumes. You will then need to format all their resumes in a consistent template that follows your customer’s exact requirements. Select which references you and your teammates will use for past performance and put all of them in a consistent format as well.
Issue all the data calls requesting information from your subcontractors in advance, giving everyone ample time to prepare thoughtful responses and provide the necessary information that you already know will go into your proposal. You can also take care of the mechanics such as getting all your teammates’ logos in the right format.
You should set up the template for your proposal and design an attractive cover that reflects your customer’s color scheme (usually “borrowed” from their logo colors) and the proposal theme. You will also want to prepare your executive summary draft, cost proposal draft, any plans such as quality assurance plans or subcontracting plans, and collect in one place any other information that you already know you will need.
Finally, you need to develop a proposal plan. This plan essentially boils down to where you are going to run your proposal, who will participate from you and your teammates in proposal writing, and what roles they will play. You should also create a provisional proposal schedule you can then change based on the actual release date and deadlines.
With all the materials ready, you will be able to position yourself for a winning bid.