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?
According to Study.com, “a proposal coordinator oversees the development of marketing proposals.”
They go on to explain this can include:
- Ensuring documents are secure and up to company standards.
- Facilitating the proposal review process.
- Guiding production of the final draft.
Proposal coordinator responsibilities
Proposal coordinators — like the name suggests — are responsible for coordinating proposals.
As mentioned above, 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
Proposal coordinators often feel like they’re herding cats.
They have to piece together scattered responses from multiple subject matter experts (SMEs) who have their own pressing responsibilities to attend to. Because SMEs rarely feel the same urgency when it comes to quickly creating proposals, they often wait until the last minute to provide crucial proposal content.
Then, the proposal coordinator has to take all of that information, tailor it to the prospect’s needs. Then, they have to make it look professional. All the while they’re facing a tight deadline. Not exactly easy.
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 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 from SMEs. In many organizations, proposal coordinators ask the same questions over and over with each RFP.
Then the SME, having answered these questions before, gets frustrated and avoids answering because they feel it won’t do any good.
Beverly Blakely Jones, National Geographic Learning |Cengage supervisor, experienced this problem first-hand.
“It all came to a head as managers kept getting kickback,” she said. “The product SMEs and marketing team were tired of answering the same questions over and over. They knew there had to be an easier way to manage our RFP responses. Finally, we started looking for a solution.”
Fortunately, they discovered RFP360 — the only RFP management solution designed to simplify the RFP process for both issuers and responders. 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 don’t have to worry about responding to the same questions over and over again.
“We have the security of knowing our knowledge is safe and consistent,” Beverly said. “We don’t have to worry that we’ll lose any SME expertise if someone quits or takes a vacation. We’re not spending hours hunting down previous answers and trying to figure out who is doing what. All the questions and answers are right there in RFP360.”
Learn how RFP360 makes it easy for proposal coordinators to craft winning proposals.