Three Ways to Finish the Proposal Year Right

As we approach the end of the year, the proposal season tends to slow down for us here in the US. We are busy preparing for the holidays, so we might use this lull as an excuse to surf the internet and catch up on holiday shopping. While it is critical to take advantage of downtime to rest and rejuvenate, I encourage you not to waste the entire month away, especially if your workload is light. This end of year lull is a great time to close out the year right and make sure we start off next year’s proposal season strong. This week I discuss three ways to finish out your proposal year right.

1. Conduct Lessons Learned and Update Your Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
As the year wraps up, take a look at your lessons learned debriefs from the last year or so and analyze them for trends. Look at common themes and share those trends with your team. Understanding these trends will not only help you to improve in the areas that may need some work, it will also allow you to pinpoint the things that have enabled you to score well.

But don’t stop there. Use the findings from your lessons learned analysis to update your business development and proposal processes where necessary. If your internal surveys indicate you are consistently scrambling to produce and deliver your proposals, you might update your SOPs to start the production process earlier. If your customer debriefs consistently indicate a lack of customer understanding, you might scrutinize your capture process and add additional rigor surrounding the call plan execution.

Using this time to update your SOPs to address key shortfalls will help you to improve performance in the upcoming year.

2. Refresh Your Reuse Materials
The end of the year is also a great time for updating your reuse materials so that they are current and ready to go in the new year. How often do we complain that our baseline past performance write-ups are out of date? That we don’t have enough proof points? That our metrics are old and stale? Use this time to do the research and legwork that can go by the wayside when Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are live.

When your content is ready for you during the upcoming proposal season, you’ll be glad you put forth this proactive effort now!

3. Check In With Your Customers
The end of the year is also a great time to check in and pulse how your customers are doing so that you can proactively address any of their concerns. You can do this through an informal, face-to-face meeting or a more formal third party assessment. Using a third party provides a neutral venue for your customers to express opinions they might not otherwise share with you. Third party assessments are independent assessments that gather meaningful and qualitative information regarding the level of customer satisfaction with your company’s performance. Surveying your customers in this way can arm you with key data to give you actionable insight before any unidentified issues escalate.

Whether directly with your customer or through a third party assessment, use this time to identify problems you are unaware of so that you can keep your customers happy.

Final Thoughts
Just because things are slow in the world of bids and proposals, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be productive. Of course you should embrace the slower work pace and the reduced stress levels, but I encourage you to use this time to make your life easier for when the workload increases again. Conduct lessons learned and update your SOPs, refresh your reuse materials, and check in with your customers. These efforts will help you close out the year right so that you and your company can improve in the upcoming year.

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)


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