What is Proposal Management Software?

The Definitive Guide to Proposal Management Software

1. What is Proposal Management Software?

Proposal managers, juggle a lot of different tasks, from writing and reviewing and monitoring and reminding to compliance and deadlines.

Proposal management software helps the proposal manager lead the team through the written portion of the sales cycle. Because it's designed specifically to facilitate the proposal management process, and the team synchronization and collaboration necessary to achieve success, it makes submitting high-quality, stand-out proposals faster and easier. 


2. What Makes Proposal Teams Unique?

Proposal management software makes submitting high-quality, stand-out proposals faster and easier. What’s so unique about proposals and proposal teams that make writing a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) so challenging it requires specific software? What is proposal software?

The Proposal Team? The majority of your proposal team has a full-time job, so they are often geographically diverse and juggling shifting priorities between that and their proposal assignments. 

The Proposal Process? Your proposal process was established to keep your team up-to-date with what they need to do and when it’s due to avoid missteps that derail the schedule. The shifting priorities, and geographic diversity, of the proposal team make this a challenge for the proposal manager. 

What is Being Worked on? Proposal managers may not “manage” the people on their team, but they are responsible for leading them through the process. When they lack visibility into what their team is working on and when they are done, they can’t step in, clarify assignments, redistribute workload, and keep bottlenecks from becoming delays.


3. Why is Proposal Management Software Unique?

What makes proposal management software unique are the integrated tools necessary for taking control of the process, synchronizing the team, and empowering proposal quality for the win.

Why Document Management?

A centralized, secure platform, complete with access permissions, version control and accessible an audit trail for organizing content and providing easy, anytime-anywhere team access. Because the documents are centralized, teams avoid the issues that come with email sharing, for example, inadvertently working on the incorrect document version.

Why Workflow?

A flexible workflow capability that standardizes and automates the proposal process to keep the team in sync and on deadline and includes templates for expediting set-up and kick-off. Together the team acts in a coordinated fashion toward a common goal, avoiding confusion and saving time.

Why Team and Time Management?

Centralized team tasks and deadlines for communicating and monitoring responsibilities and accountability, with calendaring for keeping pace with shifting priorities. Together they help the team save time that can be invested in the quality of their proposal writing.

Why Collaboration?

Empowers real-time document and graphic collaboration for interactive discussions and reviews on bid decision, capture strategy, compliance matrix, proposal outline, review cycles and revisions. Because reviews are conducted centrally, the team comes to consensus more quickly with a clear record of how they arrived at their decisions. 

Why Reporting?

Real-time and historical performance reporting that help the proposal manager recognize bottlenecks before they become delays and identify process improvements. This historical record also helps the proposal manager better budget for future proposals. 

Proposal management software is designed to improve team productivity, synchronize for greater efficiency, and empower collaboration that drives higher quality proposals.


4. What are the Most Common Objections to Proposal Management Software?

When you’re socializing proposal management software, the key is to be prepared with the benefits your decision-makers, stakeholders, and colleagues care about.

There are three common objections decision-makers have when considering an investment in proposal management software.

We Don’t Have the Budget? The cost of another software platform seems like it can always be avoided. Can’t we use something we already have? Your goal is to demonstrate how proposal management software is unique, helping you submit high-quality, stand-out proposals faster and easier. Here's how.

What’s Wrong with the Way We’re Doing it Now? Why can’t we just do it the way we’re doing it now? Resistance to change comes in many forms. Your goal is to demonstrate how that change will make everyone’s lives easier while producing more winning proposals faster. Here's how.

Will it Support Our Process? Introducing new software can prove difficult, especially when everyone on the team is busy juggling their full-time client commitments with their part-time proposal responsibilities. Your goal is to demonstrate how the right proposal management software will recognize what makes your business, process and proposals unique, and support it with ease. Here's how.

At a certain point, your business will weigh the pros and cons of proposal management software. Arming yourself with these common objections, and how to counter them, will help you deliver the integrated tools you and your team need to be successful.


5. What to Consider When Evaluating?

Evaluating proposal management software is not a task you should take lightly. Here are a few key considerations to take into account when you're evaluating proposal management software.

Content vs Proposal Software?

Content management software is a generic document management tool that focuses on the document itself: how to find, edit and store it. Proposal management software manages the whole process, including; tasks, steps, milestones, and deadlines.

Data Accuracy and Efficiency?

Another key consideration while evaluating proposal management software is the ability to store and transfer data. There should always be a link between the business development team and the proposal team. Proposal management software should provide a bridge between the two, so it can pull data in and kick-off workflows as needed. Without this bridge you're left with two siloed systems where data resides in one and needs to be manually moved to the other in order to be leveraged. This is a dangerous set-up and can cause critical data loss.


Reporting is vital. The executive and management teams need to know the status of all proposals. Having access to a robust reporting feature in your proposal management software is not a "nice-to-have," but a crucial component of the software's functionality. When evaluating reporting capabilities it's important to find a tool that offers both real-time status and historical performance data.


Proposals contain tremendous amounts of sensitive information that require a high-degree of security. Whether your solution resides on-premise or in the Cloud, it's important that your server is capable of managing data in a controlled and secured manner. A good proposal management software will add additional levels of security that further protect the information.

There's a lot to consider when evaluating proposal management software. Remember, finding the right tool means finding the one that facilitates your teams' needs.


6. Proposal Writing: How to Move from Content to Quality?

You've got your first, or second or third, draft. Where you go from here will determine how well your proposal resonates with evaluators. There are three ways to advance your proposal content to the quality evaluators crave for the win.

Write with Intent? A proposal is a purchasing vehicle, and your goal is to make evaluators question their position and consider accepting yours. When every headline, answer, bullet point, and graphic carries that significance, you establish a connection with the evaluator that resonates. Quality proposals focus on intent and the details that will help evaluators understand, and accept, your solution at a deeper level. Here's how. 

Make Content Actionable? Actionable content is content that evaluators can implement. In other words, it’s informative and relevant – but it is also relatable, showing evaluators how to achieve success. It establishes you as a confident, authoritative source, establishing trust between you and the evaluator. Quality proposals focus on the “how to do” aspect of your solution, making it actionable and leaving a lasting impression with evaluators. Here's how. 

Remove the Fluff? Filler words and phrases like basically, exactly, actually, in general, in order to, make your proposal sound uncertain and unwilling to take a clear position. They undermine the confidence and diminish the trust you’re trying so hard to build with evaluators. Eliminating these filler words and phrases will create stronger, more concise sentences that more clearly convey your intent and hold your evaluator’s attention. Quality proposals cut the fluff to keep evaluators engaged and build credibility.

It takes multiple proposal drafts to go from content to quality, and writing with intent, delivering actionable content, and cutting the fluff will deliver the quality evaluators crave for the win. It is, however, in the review and revision process where proposal quality takes shape.


Best Practices for the Proposal Manager

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