9 Things Government Contractors Need to Know About Effective Proposal Writing

Developing a Government proposal response is often the most difficult and time consuming task a government contractor will face. Here are the top ten things every government contractor should know about responding to government proposals.

1. Research is everything.Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are an integral part of the government procurement process. Typically, proposals are written in direct response to federal solicitations. While successful proposals can be exhaustive to produce in terms of time, money and stress –it’s much worse to lose a bid because you didn’t take time to research the mission requirements and procurement motivations behind the project. .

2. Quality vs. Quantity.Focus on bidding on the right opportunities. Stop lobbing long-shots on all of the opportunities that seem applicable. Instead, focus only on projects that you have a good chance of winning. Do not bid on a contract unless you fully understand the customer, their mission requirements and motivations.

3. Designate a dedicated proposal manager.Having a team member specifically dedicated to managing the proposal process is crucial to a successful submission. Hiring an experienced proposal manager or designating this responsibility to an individual on the team is integral for keeping on top of deadlines, managing resources and coordinating with upper level management throughout the process.

4. Know your role.The proposal manager is the quarterback. Empower your quarterback and give them the support they need to effectively manage the proposal development and submission process.

5. Sales must coordinate with proposal writers!  Effective Proposal writing is a fundamental activity that every government contractor relies on. Proposal are often more effective when the sales team responsible for developing the opportunity is involved in the response process. They should be the “eyes and ears on the street” that help guide your response themes.

6. Technical writers can make or break a proposal response. If you don’t speak the language, you’ve already lost. Organizations often respond to proposal questions with canned answers. Nothing turns off a proposal reviewer like a bland response. If internal resources are limited, adding a technical writer to your proposal team will generate a more professional, compliant and compelling result.

7. Develop a game plan before you start writing.Many contractors make the common mistake of starting the writing process before they have spent a sufficient amount of time developing a game plan. Taking the time upfront to create a game plan and war room for your response will keep you organized and consistent throughout the proposal response process.

8. Clearly explain your capabilities, but be concise.Your proposal should be succinct and clearly demonstrate your company’s capabilities and differentiators. This is part art AND part science. Do not get wordy, provide more than what they asked for or provide alternate solutions (unless they’ve asked for them). Remember that contracting officers are likely reading several proposals at a time and will not want to read through a lot of text before getting to the main points.

9. Review, review, review.This is tricky because most proposals are rushed and are tweaked up until the 9th hour. Reviewing the proposal is a necessary step in the submission process and cannot be overlooked. Provide an ample amount of time for the final review and production in the process before any deadlines.

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April 25, 2017

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