Better RFP Responses & Management
Better Clients – The In-House Version

Better Clients – The In-House Version

If you’re working in an in-house proposal group, being paid on time *shouldn’t* be an issue but you can still benefit from better in-house clients. Of course, it’s hard to pick your boss or even to directly tell them what to do, but you can pay attention to who makes proposals better/worse (both at the executive sponsor level and at the proposal manager level), figure out why, and work to propagate the helpful behaviours and to compensate for the less-than-helpful ones. For example . . .

You can support achievable schedules:

  • Giving responsible time estimates for your own tasks (i.e. not sandbagging)
  • Recommending the inclusion of management-reserve time for when things go south, as they will
  • Posting the schedule on a wall (actual or virtual) where it can be seen, understood, adhered to, and changed when necessary

You can support productive processes:

  • Suggesting early executive review of, and sign-off on, proposed solutions/offerings
  • Suggesting interim team reviews of drafts, especially on long proposals
  • Interviewing (other) technical experts early to identify elements that need standard wording and standard approaches

You can support balanced workloads:

  • Managing your own effort at a sustainable level, no matter what the team is doing
  • Talking about proposal standards as the trade-offs they are (What do we have time for? Which improvement will mean more to the client?) rather than mutely or resentfully accepting all the demands anyone can think to load on the team
  • Looking for ways to initiate others to proposal work, creating a trained reserve force for surge support

You can support good personnel management:

  • Appreciating effort in small but public ways
  • Asking others what help they need to meet expectations, especially schedule
  • Checking-in on peers to see how they’re doing

And so on.

We can treat our companies as a given. We can mutter about what we wish managers would do to ease the pain. Or we can change the conversation by modelling new behaviours.

Although Gandhi didn’t say that we can be the change we want to see in Proposal Land (or in the world), apparently he did say this:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

So there you have it. We need not wait to see what others do. A wonderful thing it is.



  1. Jim Taylor

    I’m sure I have mentioned this before, but one of our production coordinators found that she got far better results by using the person’s name instead of the job position — Design, Costing, Marketing, etc.
    Marilyn needs all copy by Thursday.
    Julie has to start page makeup on Monday.
    Ralph will meet with Pete Wednesday morning.
    If you were late, you weren’t just getting a few extra hours for yourself, you were inconveniencing someone you worked with and considered a friend.

    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – I don’t think I’ve heard that before. I like it. It’s awfully easy to get your head down and to forget that there really are others on the team, with their own constraints. Making it personal makes it real.

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