Have you ever wished you could switch up the traditional, rigid business development roles to provide a little magic to your next proposal pursuit? Imagine if you could wave your magic wand to find the perfect cast of characters to have a successful, and dare I say, “fun” pursuit. Following Disney’s lead, if your company (Cinderella) can get the right people in the right roles doing the right things, you’ll have the best chance to woo the customer (Prince Charming) and provide the winning proposal. Can it really happen? It can, if the supporting cast is identified early and each character plays his/her role throughout the story.
“If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” – Cinderella
Think of the cast of characters in your capture-meets-proposal love story in a different light. Rather than anointing someone with the rigid title of Capture Manager and someone else with the dreadful title of Proposal Manager, exuding a vision of someone ready to own your life for the next 30 days with endless data calls, writing sessions, reviews and tag ups, designate them with titles they can use to visualize and embrace their role. Bring to life the duties they will perform and have some fun with it. Identify the Subject Matter Experts you will need and cast them in roles they can identify with. Let their very important jobs come to life in a creative way so they own them and give Academy Award winning performances. Consider the following characters to define your “capture to proposal” dream team. Conduct a critical casting call for the Grand Duke (The Capture Manager) and the Fairy Godmother (The Proposal Manager). These starring roles must work collaboratively from the early stages of the opportunity to effect the fairytale ending you are seeking.
The King – The business development team who desperately wants to see Cinderella find her match and live happily ever after. After all, it’s “Just a matter of a boy meeting a girl under the right conditions.” Creates opportunities for the Prince to see the Princess from across the crowded room (full of competitors) and discover your company and its value proposition.
The Grand Duke – The Capture Manager who must use his/her skill to organize communications (and chance meetings) to present solutions to the Prince, so he realizes the one and only true fit to meet his requirements is Cinderella. Guides the pursuit to ensure an effortless transition from capture to proposal to the winning end. Marries your solutions to win themes, customer hot buttons and team strengths.
The Fairy Godmother – The Proposal Manager who keeps the players in line and facilitates the transformation of Cinderella to be noticed by and win the heart of the Prince. Orchestrates the cast of characters to build a spectacular ball gown (the proposal) and keeps everyone on time so the proposal is delivered before the clock strikes 12. “We have to hurry, because even miracles take a little time.”
Jaq and Gus – Your loyal Subject Matter Experts eager to help with technical and management solutioning bolstering your value proposition. Scares off the incumbent (the wicked stepmother) by developing discriminating solutions with clear and precise customer benefits.
The Birds and The Mice – The teammates you depend on to round out the skills, talent and niche capabilities needed to win the pursuit and deliver solutions with top-notch service upon award. They’re always by your side to gather all the special things you need (proof points and discriminators) to help create a sparkling proposal and make your team shine.
Rather than sticking to the traditional definitions of the roles, tailor them according to your company’s needs and the specific people you need to bring home the win. Their job may be different on each pursuit so cast them in the character they need to play for a specific opportunity and prepare them accordingly. If they get off track, simply remind them to stay in their assigned character for this effort and let them know they can play different roles in future efforts. This fun way of setting roles can be used by the Grand Duke and Fairy Godmother to leverage the strengths of each character to effectuate a cohesive team that examines all angles, push the team to excellence and increase the chances of winning the Prince’s heart.
The Fairy Godmother must be in sync with the Grand Duke throughout the transition from capture to proposal, communicating regularly until the glass slipper fits (proposal submission). They must collaborate to identify the best person for each role and guide and instruct each team member to give their best performance. Rather than simply handing off a proposal when the final RFP drops and saying, “good luck Fairy Godmother, make my dream a reality,” the Grand Duke must bring in the Fairy Godmother (Proposal Manager) early in the capture process to gain in-depth knowledge of the opportunity, the teammates, win themes and customer insight to effectively pull together a compelling proposal. Together, they must lead the team through the arduous process of turning a drab, non-differentiating proposal into the belle of the ball showing the customer why you are the one to choose. Understanding the customer and the requirements, along with the capabilities of each teammate, helps the Proposal Manager make substantiated claims and accurately describe your team’s offerings with quantifiable customer benefits. The Capture Manager resolves issues, makes decisions and serves as the motivational speaker when things get tough. He/she facilitates solutioning to guide Jaq and Gus, the Birds and the Mice to design a solution to wow the Prince. Performing in that role allows the Fairy Godmother to focus on schedule management, find the right words and supporting graphics to make the proposal sparkle and effectively communicate with the team to ensure the pieces come together to turn a pumpkin into a sleek carriage, a smock into a beautiful ball gown and ultimately turn the King’s dream into reality.
In the end, with the Grand Duke teaming up with the Fairy Godmother, leveraging each other’s organizational and communication strengths, Prince Charming will find his Cinderella. This powerful duo will guide the Prince to eliminate all the eligible ladies (the competition) in the kingdom (your trade space) by fitting the glass slipper (your value proposition, solution, proven performance, and top-notch talent) to Cinderella. Now, go wave your magic wand and cast your characters to win the next proposal. “It will do magic, believe it or not.” “Bibbidi-boppidi-boo.” – Fairy Godmother
Christa Jones, a Senior Proposal Manager at Sabre Systems, Inc. is a certified APMP® Bid and Proposal Management Practitioner. She is a proud graduate of James Madison University and received her MBA from American University.