Improve efficiency in your proposal processes with these 6 tips
12. Nov 2019 |
5 min read
Creating successful proposals takes more than just getting the words right, it takes a high level of process quality, security and efficiency. When push comes to shove, it is the entire process that counts, and it’s the process that brings better results.
Transparency, balance, consensus, awareness and documentation are key factors in a streamlined and structured approach to proposal creation.
Typically, however, the proposal process is anything but streamlined. You have no idea who’s done what. You can’t keep track of how much work is left. You put a lot of effort into the proposal process, and the result leaves your prospect unimpressed.
Another deal lost.
We’ll show you how you can become more efficient, work more securely and increase quality. Our 6 tips will help you introduce a smarter document collaboration and co-authoring process for your team, whether they work locally, globally or virtually.
1. Have a clear strategy upfront, and make sure your outline is complete before you distribute tasks
Creating a winning proposal starts well before putting your pen to paper. In fact, when writing a proposal, writing is the last thing you should do – according to the ‘Golden Rules’ of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).
In other words: It’s not the ink, it’s the think.
Before you start writing, have the planning all laid out. Who is the owner of the proposal? Who will fill out the different sections? Will you need editors or proofreaders for each section? Do you require certain sections to be finalized before other sections? Will all the team members have access to all the information (sales figures, financial numbers)? What is the deadline?
Lack of thorough planning is a major cause of proposal chaos. Make sure the whole team knows the strategy, and have regular update meetings.
Plus, have regular meetings on risk – and have fun!
2. Reuse information
Proposals often say the same thing or have the same sections, such as product descriptions, ‘About us’, SLAs, or terms of service. Is there a way to efficiently reuse such content, to be more efficient? We get this question all the time, and the answer is yes.
The answer is also: A proposal solution allows you to easily reuse pre-approved and vetted content. Reducing the time spent locating previously drafted content saves you a lot of time and enables you to have more control over your proposal process.
3. Let SMEs update content
A streamlined process requires the content to be approved, but also reviewed and constantly updated. Funneling it all through a few admins could potentially lead to challenges keeping content fresh and up-to-date.
Your proposal process should involve multiple Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) responsible for managing and keeping their content current. This enables the global organization to have the same content used across the enterprise.
One of the core challenges proposal managers face is getting their proposal writers to meet deadlines.
Chances are, you’ve worked long days and late nights to complete your work. You’ve struggled with merging files, formatting, and late submissions. And you’ve lost business because you didn’t deliver.
When you can’t deliver on time, you lose customers, confidence and potential profits. So make sure each team member actually completes their assigned task, on deadline.
5. Standardize content
Creating proposals often involves multiple people across countries and time zones, each preferring their particular style and format. Compiling multiple formats into one consistent document is no easy task and often results in late nights and stressful deadlines.
A more automated and intelligent approach to co-authoring is needed – which brings us to our last tip…
6. Use proposal software
Did you know that more and more businesses across industries are kicking their proposal processes up a notch by moving to enterprise-grade, cloud-based proposal software?
A complete all-in-one proposal solution streamlines your entire bid and proposal process, allowing users to better collaborate between their remote offices. Everyone can access and work on the same document, at the same time.
The built-in workflow lets you assign writers, reviewers and approvers, all with individual deadlines. Your team works in parallel processes up until the deadline, and reviews and approvals take place as you go.
And because formatting, layout and numbering is automatically taken care of, you have more time to focus on getting your content right.
Silje is Marketing Manager of Xait. She holds a Bachelor in Marketing Communication and an Executive Master in Business Administration. She is an analytical, efficient and results-focused marketing and communications professional and her career spans over 15 years within real estate, oil & gas and IT. When Silje is not busy growing the Xait brand, you can find her at her family cabin in picturesque Sirdal, Norway, hiking, trekking and cross-country skiing.
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