There is an old joke where two men are on the African savannah when they hear a lion roar. 
When one puts on his running shoes the other says, "Why are you doing that? You can't outrun a lion!" 
"I don't have to," says the other. "I just have to outrun you!"

And so it is with proposal writing. 

Proposal writing should be easy. The customer tells you the questions. They tell you how to respond. They tell you how they are going to score it. They tell you when it needs to be submitted. They sometimes even let you ask questions.

So what makes it so difficult?

We are rarely in the perfect situation to respond. 

Firstly, it can be difficult getting the right mix of people on the team. Those with the right mix of skills and abilities are usually the sort of people who are in high demand elsewhere. How far to compromise between the knowledge and skills required and those available is a management judgement call, but there are times when no skills are better than the wrong skills.

Having established the right mix of people, fielding the right people at the right time is also key. Rarely will a proposal required the whole team 100% of the time so working out who is required and when both plays to the strengths of the team and saves proposal costs.

This can only be done if the proposal is properly planned and managed. It is a project and, like any other project, has a clear deliverable and a non-negotiable timescale. If proposal development, review milestones and the final delivery are not planned then the result will be chaotic and late.

Finally, proposal teams need to focus on the core purpose and not get distracted. Too often proposal teams focus on issues that are somebody else’s responsibility, such as designing the solution, or that are out of their control, such as what the competition might be doing. Instead they need to devote all of their efforts to the core purpose of developing a clear, concise, compelling proposal.

So in summary, successful bid team are the ones who stay focused, take a practical approach, and accept that the proposal doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be better than the others.
And that is why proposal writing is like being chased by a lion. We only have to outrun our competitors to win.

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