Karthik Koutharapu

What inspires you the most in your role as a Bid Manager?

  • It’s motivating to be in bid and proposal professional as it enables you to solve the client problems by understanding the hot buttons, prepare for client touchpoints as your team pitches for new business.
  • For me, every proposal is an opportunity to address the client’s implicit needs and long-range opportunities.
  • I believe Proposal professionals are the unsung heroes as ‘it takes a village’ to submit a compelling proposal!

Did you always aspire to be a Bid Manager and Why? or Did you accidentally land in this profession and How?

  • I always wanted to be in a role where I get to solve client problems either directly or indirectly. Being a Bid and Proposal professional gives me that opportunity and that’s the most satisfying part of the job.
  • In 2014 as an IBMer, I was part of Global Proposal Center of Competence (PCoC). That was the real foundation for my proposal management journey. The processes followed at IBM were world-class & it’s called ‘Value-Driven Proposal (VDP)’ methodology. That’s for me is still the Bible for ‘Proposal Best Practices’ along with the APMP Body of Knowledge (BOK).
  • I owe a great part of my today’s success to my IBM manager Sri Rashmi who identified & nurtured my Proposal Management skills along with my team at IBM.
  • Once I started my APMP journey, I am fortunate to have met several industry stalwarts during my association with APMP and pick their wisdom. What inspires me most is the way each one of them are passionate about proposals and contributing to the best practices in managing bids on a frequent basis. 

What tactics and strategies did you leverage in your role that ultimately led you to win this award?

I always believed in the following strategies for a competitive proposal:

  • Proposals should tell a compelling story that sets the tone for the work ahead by weaving content into a clear, consistent, and personalized story.
  • Every proposal process should involve a number of distinct interactions with the client.
  • To be successful, it’s important to know both where your client is today and where you need them to be.
  • The proposal process is competition from beginning to end—from the moment you first engage the client through to their final decision. So, capture practice should be at the top of this game!

Winning three big APMP recognitions was really an icing on the cake!

  • I can’t thank enough all my mentors, proposal gurus, managers, friends who not only guided me but also directly or indirectly contributed to these crowning achievements. I owe this success to each one of you!!
  • The best part was my parents receiving one of these important recognitions amidst a loud cheer from so many Bid and Proposal delegates during the first-ever CBPM, India. I will cherish that moment forever.

What advice would you want to give to the next-generation professionals or your peers?

  • Conducting an RFP is like preparing a meal, and proposal managers are the master chefs for that meal. It is important to realize that the desired outcome depends on the optimum mix of ingredients, seasoning, and preparation.
  • The tools available today might be one of the key ingredients in the future. There are many tools to choose from and pick, so your meal preparation might look differently, and it will be your decision if you want to go for fast food or a gourmet meal.
  • It is an amazing time for the proposal management practice with a lot of tools and industry experts coming to support the best practices which will improve proposal quality, turnaround time, and win rates along with the productivity of proposal professionals.
  • Also, it’s amazing that proposal professionals come from diverse backgrounds and need not necessarily come with bachelor’s in technology or writing always.

Please give us one tip for creating a Winning Proposal?

Always be #PassionateAboutProposals #ReThinkProposalBestPractices

  • There is no straight-forward success mantra for Winning Proposals. Sometimes following best practices and processes is more important, as the end results are not completely in the control of bid/proposal management professionals and might be impacted by external factors.
  • Proposal Management can be really stressful, there will be some hard days, with some stringent timelines and decisions not going our way!
  • It is important to keep motivated all the time as Bid/Proposal manager(s) are the bridge that connects the entire task force of each deal.

What is something you wish others understood about the importance of Bid Management in today’s market?

It would be beneficial for capture practices to have more competitive intelligence or be more involved in the creating of an RFP prior to the release in the following ways:

  • Engaging with a client early and closing gaps in understanding are very crucial.
  • Every interaction with your client is an opportunity to learn more about how they see the world, what they aspire to, what keeps them up at night and where they need the most guidance and engagement.
  • The more you know about these coordinates, the better you’re able to engage clients where they currently are, and focus the conversation where they need the most help to see things differently and believe in new possibilities.
  • At the end of the day, every proposal professional should have the right to be involved in the qualification of opportunities (bid/no-bid decisions) as part of their bill of rights!
  • There are several tool kits, products to leverage, to make these efficient and qualitative decisions, ensure quality of proposal.

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