How to “grow” your own proposal writers

In a proposal, what you say is more important than how you say it, and making sure the people in your team contribute their knowledge is very important. This means getting everyone involved in proposal writing, even if they don’t see themselves as “writers”.

Proposal writing is a skill that can be taught. Everyone in your team who has knowledge to share can learn to be more effective in proposal writing.

However, some people will be more suited to proposal writing as a regular gig than others.

Responding to tenders can feel like you are sitting an exam every day. People who were good at exams at school or university and who quite like the challenge of sitting exams (yes, it happens) are ideal for this type of work.

Bid writers need to quickly understand what’s being asked for in a Request for Tender and know how to respond.

Likewise, getting good exam marks requires the confidence to understand and interpret unfamiliar questions very quickly and under time pressure. It means being able to plan a response that addresses that question, then identify relevant content and ignore stuff that isn’t relevant, and weave an argument or point of view throughout.

A team member who has a good academic record with high exam scores in complex subjects is highly likely to be suited to the task of working on tenders. It doesn’t really matter what kind of subjects they were good at – it’s their pre-existing aptitude for this kind of work that is important.

But proposal writing can be a lonely and demanding job, often leading to exhaustion, frustration and burnout. When someone does choose to take it on, make sure that they get proper training, supervision and support – or their time in the job will probably be short-lived. 

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.