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5 Questions That Explode the Proposal Process

“Voice from the Trenches” aims to inform and inspire marketing professionals immersed in the day-to-day activity of their firms. Columnist Karen Euler enjoys connecting with readers via LinkedIn or on Twitter @karen_e.

5 questionsIn a fireworks show, the last impression is the most important. Likewise, the final version of a proposal that ships out the door must be magnificent. Therefore, when a principal, partner, or stakeholder group has made the decision to pursue an opportunity, the AEC marketer knows that the initial launch meeting is a critical step toward the end result. He or she will rocket questions to all participants, collecting the luminous bits of information that emerge in order to create a work plan and outline. Here are five that let the fireworks spark.

  1. We have all read the request for proposal (RFP) from cover to cover. What are our relevant internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats? From this SWOT analysis we will build a strategy that differentiates our firm.
  2. Who will be on the team, internally and externally? In the services professions, people are our greatest resource. Marketers know that contacting sub-consultant team members early on ensures a smooth process for proposal development.
  3. What projects will we feature? If new storylines need to be written, images retouched, or references checked, these may be tasks to delegate. Projects are the atomic unit of a design practice. Through excellence in our projects, a client base is created and grown.
  4. Who will draft the approach statement and by what date? The principal-in-charge is in the best position to articulate the strategy in a logical hierarchy, based on information from the SWOT analysis. It can be best to write the cover letter after the approach statement is complete, in order to offer at page one what is essentially an abstract, or the highlights of the approach.
  5. Is there any further research I could provide right away? A sincere offer to help will set the stage for others to spark their own fires within. Teamwork and timeliness will ensure a magnificent final product that carries the firm to the next galaxy of opportunity.

Others in the meeting may initially be taken aback by a firestorm of intelligent questions. However, if the new opportunity is truly desirable, they will recognize the value of a few pyrotechnics at the launch meeting. Everyone is rooting for the marketer to go all out in the grand finale.

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