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Winning New Business: Preparing Proposals 101 © Judith M. Herr Well Chosen Words August 2003
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © About the Speaker Judiths experience ranges across disciplines including information technology; management; occupational/public health; medical, biological, and environmental sciences; adult education; fund- raising for nonprofit organizations; and community development. Her understanding of international efforts stems from her experiences accumulated from living three years in Belgium, three years in Malaysia, and traveling extensively in Europe and Asia.. Judith Herr brings 20+ years accumulated expertise to managing, contributing, and providing consultative support to large and small proposal efforts as well as for technical/business communication contracts. After 10+ years as a Director of Communications for a very large, high-tech consulting firm, she formed Well Chosen Words.
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © You have a brain my friend, all you need is a certificate
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © In this presentation we will cover… My Top 10 Lessons Learned A good fit – proposals and communicators Talking the talk – mastering proposal language Proposal team organization – help wanted! Proposal preparation process Parsing government-issued requests for proposals (RFPs); designing responses Reprise: My Top 10 Lessons Learned
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © My Top 10 List of Lessons Learned 1. Follow all RFP instructions exactly; continuously update compliance matrix (1,then throughout) 2. When preparing schedule, inflate time required for production - yes, lie, youll be glad you did! (2,3) 3. Keep proposal team comfortable; reward and publicly recognize contributors (throughout) 4. Collect 24X7 contact info for team; anyone else potentially needed (2, 3, 4) 5. Match identified key positions with potential proposed personnel as soon as possible (early3) Note: Numbers in parenthesis are proposal phases.
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © My Top 10 List of Lessons Learned (cont.) 6. Keep technical experts/managers focused (3, 4) 7. Early in process, draft cover letter; design concept, cover, tabs, spine, CD labels, etc. (early 3) 8. Edit continuously, but accept substantial content changes graciously -- or at least tactfully (3, 4) 9. Invite a very senior manager to recruit reviewers and lead the Red Team Review (3, 4) 10. Know when to give up perfection for good enough (3, 4, 5) Note: Numbers in parenthesis are proposal phases.
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Assuring good fit – proposal efforts and technical communicators Help Wanted: Immediate. Requires stamina; ability to read, write, spell, correct; organize/coordinate/manage communication- related project. Detail-oriented; retain equanimity/enthusiasm in panic atmosphere; may require occasional odd hours And… knack for quickly mastering new technical material and comprehending technical experts -- and adopting the lingo Attachment 1: Exercise – Matching proposal requirements to capabilities. Additional material – Selected Terms, Acronyms, References
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Talking the talk – mastering proposal team language and behavior Bid/no bid; requirements driven outline; show- stoppers? FedBizOpps; OCI, FOCI, DCAA, GSA T&M, CPFF, FFP, Reps & Certs, etc. Gold, Green, Blue, and Red Teams War Room; win themes; answer the mail; breadth and depth, business drivers. Food? Sleep? Selected Reading List; Terms and Acronyms from or web (http://home.comcast.net/~m.herr/)
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Acquisition Manager Project Planning Proposal Manager Technical Volume Leaders Proposal Writers Management Volume Leader Proposal Writers Cost Volume Leader Proposal Coordinator Production Staff Review Team Proposal Team Organization
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © The Proposal Process Phase 1: Before the RFP Phase 2: Proposal planning; kickoff Phase 3: Proposal preparation process Phase 4: Internal and adversarial review process Phase 5: Production/delivery; post proposal activities
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Flow Chart of the Proposal Process
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 1 – Before the RFP Track announcements and release date Visit/market potential client, if possible Collect resumes of potential key personnel; update capabilities statements Assess available proposal team resources; review business strategic plan; available project manager?
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 2 – Proposal Planning/Kickoff Study RFP for unanticipated requirements or show-stoppers Make bid/no bid decision. Prepare/submit questions for RFP clarification Prepare requirements-driven proposal outline Draft schedule; form core proposal team Contact list; version/file control, team communication vehicles Win themes; competitor strengths/ weaknesses?
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 2 – Proposal Planning, Kickoff (cont.) Recruit core proposal team Draft compliance matrix Coordinate with financial/costing staff Storyboard; design elements, cover, format Review production and delivery requirements Hold kickoff meeting – make writing assignments– cast of 1,000s
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 3 –Proposal Preparation Process Emphasize firm deadlines for completion Refine graphics, tables, design elements to illustrate text, re-enforce win themes Monitor/ enforce version control system Develop proposed contract organization/ management structure Draft profiles/resumes for proposed project manager/ key personnel
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 3 –Proposal Preparation Process (cont.) Conduct substantive edit; consist across all sections/cost proposal? Continuously check details, refine tables Design final deliverable Update compliance matrix
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Proposal Team at Work
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 4 – Review Process Internal reviews of preliminary drafts - Blue Review costing strategy - Green Freeze draft; conduct peer review of technical/ management proposals Conduct editorial review in parallel Review draft cover letter Convene formal review by Red Team that model clients Evaluators Incorporate reviewer comments Prepare (and hide) final draft
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Phase 5 – Production/Delivery Arrange for independent edit of final text Recheck final against RFP requirements Include compliance matrix in submittal? Prepare cover letter for signature Refine final graphics Test print final version (even if delivering electronically) Arrange for delivery per RFP instructions
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Parsing a Sample Government-Issued RFP Relevant sections of the RFP Summary page Cover form Section L: Proposal Preparation Instructions Section M: Evaluation Criteria Statement of Work/Scope of Work See Attachment 2 for example sections of current RFP
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Typical Proposal High Level Outline in Response to Government RFP 1. Executive summary/introduction 2. Corporate infrastructure, 3. Personnel – Attachment 3 4. Corporate experience 5. Past performance 6. Technical understanding or case study (if required) 7. Response to Questions/contract negotiation. Oral presentation (if required following submittal)
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Reprise: My Top 10 List of Lessons Learned 1. Follow all RFP instructions exactly; continuously update compliance matrix (1,then throughout) 2. When preparing schedule, inflate time required for production - yes, lie, youll be glad you did! (2,3) 3. Keep proposal team comfortable; reward and publicly recognize contributors (throughout) 4. Collect 24X7 contact info for team; anyone else potentially needed (2, 3, 4) 5. Match identified key positions with potential proposed personnel as soon as possible (early3) Note: Numbers in parenthesis are proposal phases..
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Reprise: My Top 10 List of Lessons Learned (cont.) 6. Keep technical experts/managers focused (3, 4) 7. Early in process, draft cover letter; design concept, cover, tabs, spine, CD labels, etc. (early 3) 8. Edit continuously, but accept substantial content changes graciously -- or at least tactfully (3, 4) 9. Invite a very senior manager to recruit reviewers and lead the Red Team Review (3, 4) 10. Know when to give up perfection for good enough (3, 4, 5) Note: Numbers in parenthesis are proposal phases.
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © End of the Brick Road: All you need is energy, enthusiasm, and the ability to… Analyze project requirements; understand audiences Multi-task Interview subject matter experts Conduct reviews Coordinate all stages of documentation projects Design information to satisfy requirements Write, edit, coordinate, produce/distribute See the humor in the ironic Market – the certificate is attached!
This Certificate of Excellence is hereby granted to: you for diligently applying what youve gained from the STC-sponsored Telephone Seminar Winning New Business: Preparing Proposals 101 © Granted 20August 2003 _______________________ Judith M. Herr, Presenter
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Attachments 1. Proposal requirements match technical communicator capabilities 2. Sample Sections from government RFP 3. Sample pages from proposals including… -- resumes tailored to answer the mail -- compliance matrix
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Additional Materials* * Available at or request to Selected Terms, Acronyms, References Fable: Sleep Deprivation Study
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Selected Web Sites and References Association of Proposal Management Professionals, Federal Business Opportunities (FedbizOpps), Common Abbreviations in FedBizOpps/Commerce Business Daily, Government Services Administration, DiGiacomo, John & James Kleckner, James (2000), Win Government Contracts for Your Small Business, CCH, Inc., Chicago, IL Kantin, Bob (2001), Sales Proposals Kit for Dummies (with CD-ROM), Hungry Man Minds, NY, NY. Newman, Larry (2001), Proposal Guide for Business Development Professionals, Shipley Associates. Pfeiffer,William & Charles Keller, Jr. (2000), Proposal Writing: The Art of Friendly and Winning Persuasion, First Edition, Prentice Hall, N.Y., N.Y. Reeds, Kitta (2002), The Zen of Proposal Writing: An Experts Stress Free Path to Winning Proposals, Three Rivers Press, NY, NY. Sant, Tom (1992), Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win Customers, Clients, and Contracts, Amer. Mgmt. Assoc., NY, NY.
Judith Herr, Well Chosen Words, © Comments, suggestions, follow-up questions? Contact me at… Judith M. Herr Well Chosen Words (Message) Web Site: /
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