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Kicking Off Proposals Effectively — Part 3

We discussed creating a proposal outline and a “NOTES” document to prepare for the kickoff and what typically goes on the agenda for a kickoff. The last element to successfully kicking off a proposal is leading the kickoff meeting itself.

Especially for proposal coordinators working in remote set-ups and leading meetings by phone — like Peak Composition usually does — it’s critical to be assertive from start to finish. The kickoff meeting is possibly the only time you’ll get your whole team on a call at one time (although hopefully most of them will be there for red team review), so it’s important to make sure you get the team to address all agenda items in a timely manner.

Most proposals that don’t have a six-month lead time only need an hour to kick off. I just move through the agenda and take notes in the “NOTES” document. If the conversation gets off track — which is totally fine, even useful and productive — I make sure to follow that new conversation through and then go back to the original item to make sure it has been fully addressed. Check in with all attendees occasionally to make sure everyone has a chance to air any concerns. Confirm any decisions before moving on to the next topic, and jot down any issues to follow up on and with whom.

Proposal writing consultants often come into a proposal with little to no knowledge of a firm’s employees or their experience, so employee names and project names can be confusing — especially over the phone. I take really good notes using the information I can gather and then I follow up with another phone call or email with the project manager or in-house marketing coordinator to confirm spellings and check for resumes and write-ups. This approach ensures the kickoff meeting stays on topic and respects everyone’s busy schedules.

After the kickoff ends, it’s a good idea to turn your notes from the meeting into a follow-up email to the whole proposal team. Include the decisions made about personnel (an organizational chart would be even better), subconsultants, project experience, the proposal schedule and writing assignments. This is a good chance to get correct name spellings and to make sure your interpretation of the meeting is the same as everyone else’s — plus, you get assignments in writing!

Kicking off proposals effectively gives you and your team the greatest chance of success in turning out a competitive, compliant proposal. Take the time to prepare and follow through on the kickoff, and you’ll be in great shape!