Best PracticesProposals – you either love it or loathe it

April 25, 2022by Ilse Sfreddo

You either love it, or loathe it

run towards it, or away from it as fast as you can

The bid and proposal management enthusiasts will know precisely what I mean.

Certain people have a natural love for and are attracted to every opportunity that comes their way to get hold of an RFP (Request for Proposal).

Bid and proposal professionals have the art and science of bidding down to a ‘T’. It is like watching people speed dating, and they intuitively know whether it is a good ‘prospect’ or not by merely glancing through the latest RFP that has landed on their desk. It is something they say comes naturally for those who are ‘in love’ with bidding, tendering, and proposal writing.

I love bid and proposal management

The truth is – I love bid and proposal management, too; I can watch my expert colleagues going about it for hours and hours ????.

On a more serious note, I used to cringe when I heard the three unknown-to-my-vocabulary words: bids, tenders, and proposals. But being part of a dynamic team of proposal strategists, bid innovators, and winners made me look at this fascinating industry differently.

So, I started asking questions, and there are many great reasons why a career in bid and proposal management could be most fulfilling and pleasing for the right person.

Specialising in bids and proposals can offer long and successful career opportunities. The roles tend to pay well, progression opportunities are excellent, and you can become a valuable thought leader and advisor to your business.

It is one of the most critical roles in business development

One highly successful bid professional working in a professional services firm confirmed that one of the most attractive things about working within the Bid Office is that “you are at the front line of generating new business and bringing money into the firm. It is an exciting feeling knowing that you are directly involved in making a huge difference to an organisation’s ability to win work and make an impact on increasing brand perception”.

It offers a variety of work

People commonly perceive the role of a Bid Manager as purely transactional; however, this is certainly not the case. When asked what responsibilities a bid and proposal manager role include, the response often surprises people.

A Bid Manager at a leading accounting firm stated that: “As a Bid Manager, you not only have to do the hands-on writing work, but you are also required to manage relationships with many different stakeholders in many areas of the business. As you get further into your career, your role can become more strategic, and you will often be required to work alongside the leadership to develop different bids strategies”.

This means that bid and proposal specialists often must wear many hats.

An increasing demand for bid and proposal specialists

Due to the bid function being a critical part of business development and sales teams, you rarely see a shortage of bid and proposal positions advertised at any given time. Whether contract or permanent, employers struggle to find talent in this space.

When asked why this is, the response was as follows: “Being a successful bid professional in our market requires working proactively; it requires you to challenge stakeholders and come up with creative strategies; not just react to your day-to-day responsibilities.”

It seems that people who get the senior bid and proposal positions are going beyond the immediate requirements of the role. They go the extra mile to advise their stakeholders.

Great growth and progression prospects

When choosing a career path, it is always important to consider the opportunities to gain experience and be promoted; not so? How long will it take me to advance to the next level? Is it possible to move up the ladder if I work hard and achieve success?

The good news is that a career in bid and proposal management can offer excellent growth opportunities. With the correct guidance and learning opportunities from the business, and personal effort and commitment, bid professionals can quickly progress through the ranks.

Highly transferable skills

A career in bid and proposal management can result in a long and successful career for many people. Some, however, may choose to use the skills they learned over the years and move into other professions where their acquired skills complement their new roles.

The following critical competencies are required to be a successful bid and proposal professional:

  • Precise attention to detail
  • Persuasive and compelling writing capabilities
  • Project management skills
  • The ability to build and maintain relationships with all stakeholders
  • A thorough understanding of the business and its offering.

It is important to note that the skills necessary to be an extraordinarily successful bid and proposal person are by no means limited to the above.

If you can manage tight and pressurised deadlines, enjoy a fair amount of adrenalin rush, and a variety of work that comes from working in the world of bids and proposals, you may very well be just the person to pursue a career as a bid professional!

In conclusion

If you are considering a career in bids and proposals, or if an opportunity arises to work on a request for a proposal in your current role, I will encourage you to embrace the opportunity. There is a strong likelihood that it will increase your skillset and improve your employability.

There is no denying that bid and proposal roles and functions are becoming increasingly important within professional services across industries, so it is certainly a career worth considering!
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