Earning or Learning? Separating Proposal Development from Proposal Skills

Are you looking for help with an important bid? Do you want to improve your proposal development skills or processes at the same time? Here's why it's better to separate these two objectives. When people approach me for help with bids, proposals and tender responses, the most common form that the enquiry takes is this:

"Can you come in and work side by side with us on a bid so that we can learn from you?"

There are two questions here, and the answer to both is yes - but not at the same time.  Here’s why.

Steven Covey’s classic time management grid introduced us to the idea of tasks that are important or not important, and urgent or not urgent.

  • Getting an important bid across the line is an important task that is also urgent.
  • Building your skills in bids, proposals and tender responses so you can win more business, more often is important — but not urgent.

Urgent tasks will always take priority over non-urgent tasks.

When there is an important bid coming up, everybody's attention and focus is on how can we get the best outcome for that bid — including mine. Even when I come in fully intending that you and your team will learn from me — and even if that’s your intention too —everything tends to be subsumed into the bigger objective, which is to get your important bid across the line.

In my experience, proposal skills development is a systematic process of enquiry and reflection that is best built away from the furnace of bid deadlines.

That’s why I offer public and professional Tender and Proposal Writing Master Class Programs that deliberately takes participants away from their day job — either for a couple of hours a week in the public program, or a couple of days in the professional program —to get the best results.

To improve your outcomes from bids and proposals through learning and development, I recommend training at least one senior person from your organisation who is going to be responsible for strategy and leading bids, and at least one other person who will be doing the proposal development, management and writing. These people need to work together and to support each other.  I have trained many proposal teams through the Master Class program, with great results.  The next public Master Class starts on May 2 and enrolments close on April 18.  Contact me if you’d like an overview of the syllabus for this very useful program.