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8 Skills You Can Master to be a Better Proposal Manager

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Most proposal managers did not study proposal management in college. It is one of the few professional careers without a corresponding 4-year college major. There are bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business management and contract management, but usually only a short certificate program for proposal management. So how do proposal managers learn the skills they need to thrive and succeed?

Many people discover a career in Proposal Management by participating in a proposal as writer, editor, or subject matter expert. Proposal managers often have liberal arts degrees in music, art, and English, STEM fields, Marketing, or Management disciplines such as Project Management, Business Administration, and Contract Management. They often learn about proposal management through on-the-job training with an experience proposal manager or a proposal consultant supporting their company. Some college procurement outreach offices provide 1 to 5-day training sessions in proposal management to supplement skills.


To be successful, Proposal Managers must possess a unique set of skills and be able to

  • Visualize the big picture of a complete project and focus on the small details.
  • Understand technical information to facilitate brainstorming and reviews.
  • Balance the needs of the potential customer and business plan of the bidder with available corporate resources.
  • Schedule hundreds of tasks with dependencies to be completed in a relatively short time.
  • Be able to manage a diverse team of personnel from different departments, companies, and locations.
  • Master compliance with the RFP without parroting it.
  • Continuously train team members who have never participated in proposal development.
  • Respond to the same questions over and over, but provide unique responses tailored to the customer and the solicitation.
  • Have knowledge of graphic design, editing, writing, and reviewing to determine accurate deadlines and set expectations for proposal development and production.

 

A proposal manager usually manages of team of contributors, but may sometimes be the sole writer, coordinator, manager, graphic artist, editor, and production manager. The proposal process is more successful and less stressful when the Proposal Manager develops a Proposal Management Plan to organize the many tasks and people who support the proposal. To be successful, a Proposal Manager must master many skills. Here are some major functions that Proposal Managers should incorporate into their repertoire:

  • Effectively use proposal graphics to create winning RFP responses
  • Build a successful technical approach
  • Write a risk management plan
  • Outline a comprehensive management plan
  • Work with Subject Matter Experts to create custom workflow graphics
  • Develop contractor past performance examples
  • Avoid a double-edge sword as incumbent contractor
  • Effectively use win themes

 

The Association of Proposal Management Professional (APMP) is a professional organization dedicated to supporting proposal, business development, capture, and graphics professionals. They provide certifications, conferences, live and on-demand webinars, a job bank, the APMP Body of Knowledge, local chapter and international affiliations, compensation surveys and reports, create industry specific content, and conduct live and virtual training and event. The annual Bid & Proposal Con (BPC) is a multi-day training event that will provide great value for new and experienced Proposal Managers.

 

Download our Proposal Manager Toolkit for easy-to-use templates including a strategic team graphic, management plan, risk management graphics, technical approach format, and past performance examples. Our toolkit will keep you organized as you proactively develop better proposals. With the right skills and tools, you can become a more successful Proposal Manager and lead your team or company to victory!

download proposal management toolkit

 

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