Want to create winning proposals? Of course you do, but how? Well, talking with a proposal coordinator is a good place to start. The person in this role has to be a flawless communicator, organizational whiz, project management master and more to get the job done. You definitely want them on your side.
This post will explore the proposal coordinator role, their responsibilities and how they whip up winning RFPs.
What is a proposal coordinator?
First things first: What is a proposal coordinator? A proposal coordinator is the person responsible for managing the creation of proposals. They often work with proactive proposals and RFP responses. Generally, they are part of the sales, marketing or revenue operations team.
Proposal coordinator responsibilities
Proposal coordinators — like the name suggests — are responsible for coordinating proposals.
A proposal coordinator’s responsibilities include
- Managing the creation of proposals
- Collaborating with subject matter experts, sales and other team members to write the proposal
- Verifying proposals are formatted consistently and correctly
- Ensuring proposals are compelling, accurate and complete
- Facilitating the proposal review process
- Cataloging and organizing proposal content for future use
As you can see, creating winning proposals involves a lot of moving parts … and proposal coordinators make sure those moving parts come together successfully.
Key skills of a proposal coordinator
Proposal coordinators have a hand in every stage of the proposal creation process.
According to PayScale, they must:
- Coordinate and maintain team documentation efforts for responses to RFPs
- Analyze requirements and ensure that proposals meet requirements
- Edit and rewrite proposals, including creating templates and boilerplate text
- Draft proposals and communicate across teams to get input and meet deadlines
Because of the wide range of tasks they must complete, successful proposal coordinators are often skilled in many areas, including:
- Writing and editing
- Managing people
- Graphic design
While you’re unlikely to find a candidate who is extremely skilled in every one of the categories listed above, they should understand the basics.
In most cases, the best proposal coordinators are T-shaped employees. For those who aren’t familiar, TechTarget defines a T-shaped employee as “an individual who has deep knowledge and skills in a particular area of specialization, along with the desire and ability to make connections across disciplines.”
They go on to explain that “the horizontal bar of the T symbolizes a breadth of general knowledge,” while “the vertical stem of the T symbolizes the depth.” Put simply, T-shaped proposal coordinators have a working understanding of a wide range of categories and specialize in at least one area.
This allows them to keep the big picture in mind when coordinating proposals. At the same time, ensure they have the expertise needed to maximize their impact.
Proposal coordinator challenges
Being a proposal coordinator isn’t always easy. Indeed, many proposal coordinators feel like their job is much like herding cats. Common challenges include:
- Piecing together scattered responses from multiple subject matter experts (SMEs)
- Following up with SMEs multiple times asking for their input
- Meeting tight deadlines for RFP responses
- Finding the right proposal content from previous projects
- Tailoring the content to meet the prospect’s needs
- Adjusting and ensuring proper proposal formatting
It’s not exactly easy. But with the right tools, skills and support, you can master the process.
How to overcome these challenges
While getting SMEs to provide timely content is challenging, it’s absolutely critical. Proposal coordinators need to leverage their expertise, and they need to have enough time left over after receiving their content to tailor the language to the prospect’s needs.
Unfortunately, many proposal coordinators fall victim to the hurry-up-and-wait mentality. However, the most successful develop a more proactive approach.
Develop a template
Proposal coordinators have to make it incredibly easy for SMEs to give them the content they need.
A great way to accomplish that is by creating proposal templates. Templates provide clear direction that makes it simple for SMEs to answer prospects’ questions. They also ensure SMEs provide responses in the most useful format.
Create the first draft
Another great way to simplify SMEs’ involvement in the proposal process is to draft answers to request for proposal (RFP) questions and ask SMEs to review.
True, this first draft will likely contain incorrect information. After all, proposal coordinators don’t have the same expertise SMEs have. But, as long as SMEs have the opportunity to review the content before it’s published in the final proposal, they’ll iron out the details without issue.
Because the process is easier, they’ll likely be thrilled to do it. Instead of trying to create compelling content from scratch, they only have to review and provide clarification.
Reuse past proposal content
Reusing past proposal content is probably the most important component of getting winning proposal content. In many organizations, proposal teams struggle with repetitive tasks that when their time could be better spent.
Grégory Saive, IBA global director of sales and support, experienced this problem first-hand. Many of their RFPs are hundreds or thousands of pages long and all are highly complex. Each involved multiple SMEs, often for responses the’ve given before.
Fortunately, they discovered Responsive — the leading RFP response management platform. Using their newfound technology, they’re now able to organize, store, search, and reuse past proposal content.
A proposal coordinator can quickly and easily find the answers they need. Likewise, SMEs and other stakeholders don’t have to worry about repetitive tasks.
“Responsive allows the team to spend more time on meaningful tasks…either training, reviewing answers, or improving quality. That’s where I’ve spent most of my time saved since the beginning…I cannot really measure the increase in quality in terms of answers, but I can certainly measure the increase of quality in my team.”