Ten things I learned during my first five years on the job
It’s no secret that proposal writing is a niche field. When I first ventured into the bid and proposals profession, I was a bit apprehensive. Coming from a creative writing and journalism background, I wasn’t sure how interesting the whole process of proposal writing would be. But I was curious to figure out whether it would be just like any other business or technical writing, whether it would have any room for creativity, and whether it would give me an adrenaline rush. As I spend more time working in this industry, I’m finding more answers to my questions.
Every day, there’s something new to learn in this field. Here I’ve summarized what I have learned during my first five years as a proposal writer:
#1 IT ISNT EASY
Proposal writing is not a quick and easy process. There are many aspects to writing a good proposal. You need to be aware of the proper process flow and the requirements specified by the clients in RFPs/RFIs. Every proposal is different. It’s up to you how you make your responses appealing and unique.
#2 PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Practice makes perfect. Experience certainly helps you to develop the skill set of writing effective proposals. There’s a lot of writing and rewriting involved in the initial stages. As you grow within the field, you learn how you can write the kind of proposals that your clients appreciate and that earn you business.
#3 REPOSITORY OF INFORMATION
Have a handy repository of information. A database containing responses to all the frequently asked questions can be very useful. It is cumbersome and time-consuming to search for the same sort of information while responding to a huge RFP. If you have it all in one document (preferably a live document), it can help you finish your task quicker and focus more of your time on writing the customized responses.
#4 QUALITY MATTERS
Quality matters. It’s not about the length of your proposal or how many words your responses contain; it’s about the quality of the content. A well-written response will always add value to a proposal and increase your chances of winning.
#5 STAY EAGLE EYED
There’s no room for procrastination. There are various tasks and a to-do list to manage when you start writing a proposal, such as reaching out to subject matter experts for specific queries. As there are often tight deadlines, you can’t afford to postpone any of the tasks. The sooner you get them done, the better.
#6 PERSEVERANCE IS EVERYTHING
Perseverance is key. Writing proposals takes a lot of patience. If you can combine patience with diligence and a talent for writing, you can definitely pursue a career in proposal writing.
Be proactive and persistent. You must be proactive and tenacious while chasing the information that you need.
#8 BE THE CLIENT’S BEST FRIEND
The client comes first. When you write your proposals, always remember to write from the client’s point of view. Though you are supposed to be talking about your organization, keep it minimal. The clients will be mainly interested in their benefits, not about your organization’s achievements.
#8 RAPPORT ROAD
Maintain positive rapport with stakeholders. It is very important to maintain a good rapport with your stakeholders—the sales team, the leadership committee, etc. This will help you get the appropriate information when you need it most.
#9 RAZOR SHARP RESEARCH
Do your own research. Research plays a major role in writing proposals. While you will be provided with client-related information, you should always do your own research to understand more about the clients. This will give you an edge over your competitors.
#10 STAY CURIOUS
Working in this industry has been a great learning experience so far, and I am sure the learning will continue every day as I work on more proposals and face new challenges.